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Billy Tape Measure

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Mary says her Illinois-born husband and father-in-law refer to a measuring tape as a billy. The word billy is used in a slangy sense to refer long lengths of metal, such a billy knife, and a Billy Box is a kind of toolbox, but the use of billy to mean a measuring tape is extremely rare. This is part of a complete episode.

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  • So I am listening to the FM broadcast of this discussion about Billy Measuring Tape on Saturday September 16, 2023, and I come here to see that the discussion took place back in 2018. Well, I did some sleuthing around, conducting Google Image Searching for +billy +tape +measure which gave me the link to this discussion. But also in the results was the eBay listing of an actual “Billy” Estemeter West Germany tape measure for sale. The pictures did not reveal the date of manufacture, but they seemed pretty vintage. Keep in mind that the Estemeter product hails from West Germany, so that would indicate the era running from between 1945 to what, 1993? I don’t recall exactly when the Berlin Wall fell. Well, doing additional Google Image Searching for “Estemeter West Germany” actually resulted in other tape measures too, with names displayed in quotation marks such as the “Robbie” and the “Charlie” and there is a round Estemeter not named, but it actually is cited as being antique. So I hope that helps. It was an interesting sidetrack into recent historic trivia. /s/ Dale

  • Okay this is a further followup to the post I submitted less than an hour ago, on this very forum discussion. Please read that post first.

    Since that post, I did further Google searching ,and this time used the simple term Estemeter to search. I came across two resources which I believe give more light to this question as to just what the Billy tape measure might be, and why it has an obscure reference in conversation.

    The first resource I came across that referenced the Estemeter was of a court case in Illinois, and the creator of the Estemeter, a William M. Estep and his wife Dora Estep.

    Cite the Appellate court of Illinois, February 11, 1952, People v. Estep, 346 Ill. App. 132, 104 N.E.2d 562 (Ill. App. Ct. 1952). I found it at this URL: https://casetext.com/case/people-v-estep-11

    Makes sense, doesn’t it, that someone might name a product produced out of a business he owned to be named similarly to the owner? Estep/Estemeter?

    Well, they don’t reference the Billy tape measure there, but this William M. Estep produced a variety of different items, and sounds like he was somewhat of a quack. Which leads me to his bio page elsewhere.

    I kept looking for the Estemeter, and came across a listing of other products for sale, one item being called an Atomotrone by this William M. Estep. And then searching for the Atomotrone brought me to the bio at this URL : https://hatch.kookscience.com/wiki/William_McKinley_Estep

    Forgive me but I don’t know how to put links in here. Probably can’t since I just registered today, too. But this William M. Estep seems to have been way out there. So that’s what I was able to find.

    My disclaimer here: I’m making conjectures based on what I found, using the tools of search available. I may very well be wrong here, but check it out and see for yourself. Let me know what you find, and think?

    /s/ Dale
    Saturday 2023sep16, 1842hours Eastern

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