Posts Tagged ‘weighing’

A butcher’s steelyard

March 22, 2016

Steelyards are first rate and accurate weighing devices, intended to measure the weight of heavy objects. The object to be weighed is hung on the hooks on the short end of the lever and then a weight is slid along the yard length until the whole lever is horizontal. The scale on the yard is in units of weight (for scientists that ought to say mass) so you just read off at the point the weight has reached to balance the steelyard.

The one we have in the museum comes from a butcher’s shop and was clearly intended to weigh carcasses of meat.

Butcher's steelyard at Market Lavington Museum

Butcher’s steelyard at Market Lavington Museum

It has clearly seen better days but rest assured it was in that condition when it came to the museum. This one is marked ‘Crown Regulation 1926’ which suggests it is in the region of 90 years old/ It can weigh up to 300 pounds – about 137 kilograms.

This item is on display in our trades room at the museum.


Life in the balance.

December 19, 2014


Yes there is plenty of life in this spring balance.

Salter Model 3 pocket weighing scales at Market Lavington Museum

Salter Model 3 pocket weighing scales at Market Lavington Museum

This is quite a hefty little beast. It can weigh up to 25 pounds weight/ That’s in the region of 12 bags of sugar so these are no lightweight scales. Officially they are the number 3 model of pocket scales. Don’t look for accuracy. The divisions are each half a pound in size.

They are mid 20th century and made by Salter – hugely well known makers of weighing scales. It is hard to know just what a householder wanted such a balance for. These days people have similar devices to weigh luggage to make sure they are in line with aeroplane rules but back then it was much more likely to have been for weighing garden produce. These scales are usually on display in our kitchen room at the museum.

The scales belonged to a householder (and gardener) on White Street in Market Lavington.


Letter Scales

February 20, 2014

At Market Lavington Museum we have a set of scales for weighing letters that date back to the 1880s. They were given to the museum, many years ago, by Rose Crouch who had been a Hiscock before she married.

Victorian letter scales at Market Lavington Museum

Victorian letter scales at Market Lavington Museum

The scales are beautifully made in brass on a wood base and with a velvet lining. We think the weights, wrapped up in this photo, come from different scales.

The purpose is obvious. You could weigh a letter and then look up what value stamp was needed to post it. When made, you wouldn’t have needed a separate table of weights and prices for they are embossed on the scale pan.

Postal charges (for 1880) are embossed on the scale pan

Postal charges (for 1880) are embossed on the scale pan

Three rates were given. For letters weighing less than an ounce it was a penny. That’s an old penny of course with 240 of them to the pound. Between one and two ounces upped the cost to a penny halfpenny (1½d) and then up to four ounces cost tuppence (2d).

Using the retail price index as a measure of inflation, that old penny in 1880 is much the same as 35p today which makes stamps much more expensive now. But if you consider incomes, the equivalent of earning a penny in 1880 is £1.82 today, so in terms of income it is much cheaper to send letters now.

We think these scales are lovely items – a real treasure of Market Lavington.

A steelyard

October 23, 2013

Steelyard is a word that does not seem to describe the object we are looking at – a kind of weighing scales. Nonetheless, it is the right word for scales such as these.

A steelyard to be found at Market Lavington Museum

A steelyard to be found at Market Lavington Museum

This steelyard is of a heavy duty kind, capable of weighing items up to 300 pounds in weight. That’s approaching 150 kilograms in present units.

In use, this steelyard would have hung from a beam in the open – not against a wall. The item to be weighed was hung from those fearsome looking hooks and then the heavy ball was moved along the arm until the arm was horizontal. The scale was along that arm. The further you had to move that spherical weight, the heavier your item was.

In this case the item to be weighed was meat – animal carcases or parts thereof. This steelyard dates from around 1926 for it carries that date on the roundel at the left hand end.


Crown Regulation - 1926

Crown Regulation – 1926

No doubt the accuracy of these devices was deemed important. The item says ‘Crown regulation’, gives the year of manufacture and the maximum load.

Clearly this device is no longer in A1 condition but it serves as a reminder of a time when there was a slaughterhouse in the village.