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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Culture:English
Title:scale and weights
Date Made:ca. 1770
Type:Tool - Weight/Measure
Materials:wood; base metal: bronze, brass, steel; paper
Place Made:United Kingdom; Great Britain: England
Accession Number:  HD 2014.19.88
Credit Line:D.J. and Alice Shumway Nadeau Collection
2014-19-88t.jpg

Description:
Boxes of scales and weights were imported in quantity into the colonies from England during the 18th century. Prior to the Revolution goldsmith Joseph Richardson in Philadelphia imported and sold such boxes bearing his own imprint. Because of the great variety of coinage circulating in the colonies and the common practice of clipping, it was important for shopkeepers and merchants to know the actual weight of the coins, which could then be translated into monetary value with the help of the printed conversion data. Scale consists of a horizontal steel bar, each bent into a hook to hold the lines suspending the circular pans, one on each end; pivoting in the center is a vertical rod wih a short shaft above the pivot point (for grasping) and a longer portion below; another small shaft fixed to the horizontal bar in front of the vertical rod shows the degree of displacement when the contents of the two pans are of unequal weight; each of the two circular dished pans is attached by three cords each to the ends of the bar; the weights consist of (1) three cast bronze nesting weights, probably 4, 2, and 1 troy ounces, the largest one has on its bottom three consentric rings and is stamped twice "R" incuse; the two smaller weights are double-scored around the outside; (2) four small cast brass weights, all rectangular; they are stamped in decreasing order of weight, with five, four, three, and two circles; indicating pennyweight; (3) one rectangular weight cut from sheet brass is stamped with six circles, probably indicating six grains (one-half pennyweight); all weights also bear stamps resembling hallmarks, most of which are illegible, but some appear to be the lion passant used on English silver to indicate sterling quality; rectangular wooden box (probably oak) with flat lid hinged with steel cotter pins; the box is of nailed construction and has one large T-shaped compartment and two small rectangular ones, paper glued to inside of the box is imprinted: "The Standard/ Weight of ye following Coins/ (see data file for transcription)....." S-shaped brass hooks pivot on top of lid and fits into steel loop fixed in front of box and which projects through the lid when its closed.

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https://museums.fivecolleges.edu/detail.php?t=objects&type=ext&id_number=HD+2014.19.88

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