19th-Century Drafting Compass
This 19th-century English drafting compass is made of iron. A drafting compass is a drawing tool that can be used to draw circles or arcs, and is typically made of metal. It can also be used for navigation, mathematics, drafting, and for measuring distance, or plotting a course on a map. This compass has two legs that are connected by a hinge, so they can be moved toward or away from each other to change the size of the circle. One of the legs has a spike with a sharp point at the end. The other would likely be dipped in ink and used to draw the circle. During the Renaissance, many attempts were made to build a universal tool for performing a variety of mathematical calculations. This need was especially important for the military, because new battle technology called for more precise mathematical knowledge. In 1597, Galileo (1564–1642), an Italian astronomer, achieved this goal by inventing the geometric and military compass. Over time, the model became more refined, and is now known as the drafting compass.
At this time in Great Britain, a study was commissioned by social reformer and politician Edwin Chadwick (1800–1890) to discover ways to improve disease prevention and sanitary conditions in Britain, following a severe cholera outbreak. Chadwick suggested to the government that the most important steps towards public health included improved sewer drainage, the removal of refuse from streets and houses, as well as the provision of clean drinking water to all. The results of the study led to the creation of the Public Health Act of 1848, legislation that placed the supply and treatment of waste and water under local authorities who could raise funds to improve unsanitary conditions.