(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/69/Abacus-collection on September 5, 2011 6:13 AM)
My mother-in-law gave me a very nice abacus before she passed away. Shown above left, it has the text “3-15-58,” “FIDEL B. MAPA WOODWORKING & CABINETMAKING” and “GUINOBATAN, ALBAY” etched on its front. My father gave me the abacus shown above right, but it doesn’t have any markings on it. (It was probably made in the 1960s or earlier.) Both are chinese abacuses (suanpan) made of wood with one or two metal rods.
Today my wife bought me three japanese abacuses (soroban); two have 27 columns (with wooden beads) while the third has 23 columns (with plastic beads). The two abacuses with covers cost 120 pesos each and the one without a cover cost 100 pesos.
The small bead sizes of the japanese abacuses bother me; the beads are easy to move unintentionally. Another reason I prefer the chinese abacuses is because I feel the explicit “five ones and two fives” are easier to understand (for someone who isn’t too familiar with abacuses).
Five abacuses probably isn’t enough to be called a collection. I’m interested in the ones made in the Philippines. Please leave a comment if you know of any.