Many types of scales have been developed over the ages and as a result, there are now many antique scales available. They can often be found at auctions or in specialist shops and even online. This article explains some of the antique scales that can be found.
The weighing of money has been practised for thousands of years, ever since the existence of money itself. The weighing of gold and silver coins was prominent in the Roman times for example. In order to work effectively, scales for the purpose of weighing money had to be accurate on the one hand, but small enough to be easily transported from one place to another on the other hand. Most money scales, therefore, have their own, usually, fitted, metal or wood containers.
Most money scales were equal arm balances, but also steelyard type were quite common as well. Scales dating back to the Roman times are extremely hard to find and, as a result, are extremely valuable.
Postal scales are the most popular types of scale amongst antique scale collectors.As of 1840, the practice of adding stamps to letters and packages was established and the weight of the letter being sent determined the cost of the postage. Along with this concept came the birth of the postal scales as the weight shown by the postage scales determined how much the customer had to pay. Nearly, all types of scales were used as postal scales in the early days: Scales with the pans hanging below the central beam, scales with the pans placed above the central beam, spring scales, pendulum scales and many more. There is still a large number of postal scales around and though, they are popular, they are not overly expensive.
Antique kitchen scales, otherwise known as home scales, were used mainly for measuring quantities of ingredients used for precise cooking. They were usually table spring type scales. The range that these scales could weigh was usually quite small and so, were the scales. Special attention was given to their design, which were used as a decorative item, as well as, a functional one for the home.
Textile and paper scales
Different textiles and paper vary in their weight per square unit and as a result, at the beginning of the 19th century, special scales were invented. The results they gave were not in units of weight, but in weight pertaining to area (ounce to square inch). Due to their small size, paper merchants dealing in paper or textile used to carry these scales with them to determine the quality and standard of the paper they were viewing.