In the late 1870s the government clerk from Wellington, New Zealand—Leonard Stowe, devised a simple adding machine, which he patented in 1880 in Great Britain and Germany (patent Nr. DE11907). The English patent for Stowe’s Patent Calculating Machine (see the lower patent drawing) was assigned to Stowe brothers, 32, Essex Street Strand, London.
A working model of the machine was exhibited at the International Exhibition of 1880-1881 in Melbourne, Australia, and received an honorable mention (It was advertised as: This machine combines simplicity with accuracy, has no complicated machinery in it, and is guaranteed to last for years without repair. Any sums in Addition, either in plain figures or in money, can be performed with it.) Unfortunately, it seems there is no example of the device, known to survive to the present, so we have only the patent application at our disposal.
The machine of Stowe consists of a number of cylinders, or rollers, with figures printed thereon, zero or naught being represented by a red square. To the left of the cylinders are a number of indicators, each of which records every perfect revolution of its corresponding cylinder.
To place the machine ready for work the indicators must be turned until zero or naught is visible; and the cylinders must be turned so that the zero on the extreme left i.e., nearest to the indicators is visible.
Let’s see an example of adding operation, using the patent drawing (see the image below).
To add the following figures:
Turn the cylinder towards you till 4 appears in the first column at the left end—stop, start again from the Zero or Red Square, now visible till you come to 5 in that column; start again from the Zero or Red Square, now visible, till you come to 7 in that column; start again from the Zero or Red Square, now visible, till you come to 3 in that column; start again from, the Zero or Red Square, now visible, till you come to 4 in that column.
On looking at the indicator you will find figure 2 recorded, and figure 3 will be the figure now visible at the left end of the cylinder, the two together making 23 which is the required total.
Note: The result of any addition will always be found by reading the figures recorded on the indicators together with the first figure on the left end of the cylinders.
Biography of Leonard Stowe
Leonard Stowe was born on 11 March 1837, in Trolly Hall, a large townhouse, still preserved in Buckingham, Aylesbury Vale District, South East England. He was the son of William Stowe (1791-1860), a surgeon and natural history enthusiast at Buckingham, and his wife, Mary Stowe (Rogers). His eldest brother, William Henry Stowe (1825–1855), was an English scholar and journalist.
Leonard Stowe attended a school at Iffley, near Oxford, and later (1853-1856) studied at the celebrated Rugby School in Warwick-shire (one of the oldest independent schools in Britain), when Dr. Meyrick Goulburn was headmaster.
On 2 September 1858, Leonard Stowe went aboard the ship (barque) Lady Alice, traveling from Gravesend, near London, to Nelson (a town on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, in the South Island), New Zealand. In the 19th century, the voyage from England to New Zealand takes a lot of time (more than four months), so the ship arrived in Nelson on 14 January 1859.
In Nelson, Stowe had some years’ experience of station life under Arthur Penrose Seymour, a run-holder from the Awatere district. In 1863 Stowe was appointed secretary to Thomas Carter, third Superintendent of the province of Marlborough, and from 1864 Stowe acted under Seymour, when he was raised to the fourth Superintendent of the province of Marlborough.
In 1865 Stowe became Clerk of the Legislative Council, a position which he occupied for more than 20 years. In 1889 he was appointed as a Clerk of the Parliament. Stowe has filled many other offices during his career (see the lower photo from 1902), and he was a notable figure in the Parliamentary life of New Zealand for over 30 years. He was also a headmaster of Nelson College for several years.
Leonard Stowe’s first wife, Mary Jane Iles-Stowe, died on 26 March 1868, aged only 30. Three years later, on 31 May 1871, he married in Nelson, New Zealand, to Jane Greenwood (1838-1931), an artist.
Jane was born on 18 April 1838, in Charenton-le-Pont, Île-de-France, France, the 3rd daughter of Dr. John Danforth Greenwood (1803-1890), a successful physician from Mitcham, Surrey, England, and Sarah Greenwood (nee Field) (1809-1889). She arrived in Nelson, NZ, with her parents and siblings (7 brothers and sisters, as her youngest brother was born on board the ship, en-route to New Zealand) aboard the Phoebe ship on 29 March 1843 (they left England from Gravesend on 16 Nov 1842, as Dr. Greenwood had secured the position of Surgeon Superintendent and Justice of the Peace, receiving free passage for himself and his family in return.)
In Nelson Danforth was working as a doctor, farmer, magistrate, Captain (of the Nelson Militia), Clergyman, and Flax Agent. Later in his life, he took a few public positions, like a member of the Legislative Council, Inspector of Schools, Principal of Nelson College, and Sergeant of Arms to the House of Representatives in Wellington. Sarah Danforth was a keen artist and letter writer and took to the new job of housekeeping with gusto, and later between 1865 and 1868, she ran a successful school with six of their daughters (they had 12 children).
Leonard and Jane Stowe had five children: three sons— William Reginald (9 Mar 1872–9 Feb 1949 ), Harry, and Leonard Acland (11 Aug 1876–7 Nov 1876), and two daughters—Emily Muriel (10 Apr 1875–28 May 1971), and Mary Sylvia (28 Jul 1873–20 May 1927).
Jane Stowe was a delightful watercolorist and used to exhibit her paintings at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts from 1883 until 1931. She received many prizes and honorable mentions.
Leonard and Jane Stowe lived in a nice wooden house called Te Moana (later known as Tiakiwai) at 2 Tinakori Road, Wellington (see the nearby photo from the 1880s).
Leonard Stowe died 83 years of age on 25 April 1920 and was buried in Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington. His wife Jane died of bronchitis in Wellington on 5 November 1931, aged 93.