Antique Inspector Weights Set

saintroadDecember 1, 2012

I stumbled upon a truly beautiful set of these weights today at an antique shop after engaging the Dutch owner about our mutual engineering backgrounds and studies. Not knowing much about their origin, I was intrigued at the quality of the set and the impressive number of hallmarks and overall finish which certainly seemed to enhanced the overall significance of this find greatly.

After research, I believe these to be a high quality traveling set of inspector weights. Is this correct?

Please examine the photos of the 13 weights and advise on their history, hallmarks, purpose and potential origin if possible. All weights carry hallmarks on their top side and base. The larger ones carry a litany of hallmarks down the side as well. Additionally, the largest (1KG) weight has the initials FP & G.R with a ton of hallmarks on the top.

Let me know if you need any additional photos.

Thanks for any and all info!!!


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Where was your research done?

And why a traveling inspector and not a compounding pharmacy or industrial chem lab?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 9:53PM
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Those appear to be a set of standerd weights for a balance beam scale. Those are made of brass. I have seen similar sets in high school and college chemistry labs of 60 years ago. However, most classroom weight sets in the US do not carry that many cast-in hallmarks.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 11:11PM
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That is my point. No way these are just chemlab weights. Not with the finish, age and hallmarks. Need to.find out who would know these answers.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:36AM
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Although I can not shed any light on the specific set of weights shown above, I can offer some insight to answer Lazygardens question;

"And why a traveling inspector and not a compounding pharmacy or industrial chem lab? "

In nearly every state & county and in some instances such as where I live the; community maintains a "Bureau of Weights & Measures" under the tax assessors office.

In the Bureau of Weights & Measures office they maintain a huge, super finite brass beam balance scale that is used to periodically test the field inspectors weights. They have similarly finite liquid graduates that are used to test the field inspectors liquid graduates.

The Field Inspectors then travel throughout their jurisdiction and field test weight scales & liquid measuring devices in such places as your butcher shops, grocery stores, pharmacies and the pumps at your gas station to insure they are serving an accurate measurement to the retail customer, (and ultimately collecting the full measure of taxes - LOL)

Next time you buy some meat at your butcher shop look on the front, customer side of his scale and you will see a sticker that indicates the last time that scale was field tested for accuracy. You will see similar certification stickers on the front of the gas pumps at your filling station.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 10:45AM
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OMG. Do you really believe an agricultural inspector from Amarillo, Texas checking a fuel pump is going to use a set of polished hallmarked weights bearing crown crests and crossed daggers from England? I know what the department of Weights and Measures does but there is no similarity between this set and their classification of service.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 3:52PM
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Maybe those can help.

I'm still puzzled by the "traveling inspector" concept because my dad, a pharmacist, had several sets of weights he used in compounding prescriptions.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 6:16PM
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Cheers. I will figure this out. No way these are for a chemlab or for a rural fuel inspector. Not saying these had to be a 'traveling' set, but they are certainly not being used for calibrating butcher scales either. LOL

This post was edited by saintroad on Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 7:52

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 7:51AM
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I doubt the set is from England as you seem to think, as they still use pounds and ounces, not kilograms. Possibly the hallmarks are a sign the weights have been checked and are guaranteed accurate- no sense in a weights and measures inspector having a dodgy set of calibrating weights.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 9:09AM
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Although the general public in the USA may be stuck in pounds and ounces, labs have been metric (SI units) almost since it was invented.

That style is commonly called "Apothecary weights" ... and even English and American druggists usually used grams and kilos for compounding (after the early 1900s) because they are doing chemistry, not retail selling. My dad had several really old sets, metric, oz/lb and the old pharmacy style of grains and drachms and scruples. (YIKES!) A similar set.

And some industrial weights from Etsy:

They are stamped (hammer and punch) when verified for weight after manufacture. They are cast heavy and the excess ground off during polishing. It's not of high significance that they are marked. It just means you got weights that were checked against someone's master weight, with traceability. Weights like that are good enough for most rough chemical work, or even in a bakery where you would have x grams of yeast per sack of flour.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Yep thanks for the info! I still certainly believe that the abundance of hallmarks have higher significance than what is being recorded herein. The largest weight alone has 30 different hallmarks. In any case, it doesn't matter. It is a beautiful set of history, and I am proud to have it within my collection.

Thanks for all of the time & insight!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:36AM
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