1795 Small Bullion Scale

Bullion Scales

In this section we focus on the various scales used by Jewellers and Gold Traders to weigh the precious metals of gold and silver. Our collection of Bullion Scales range from the 1700s to the late 1900s, from small hand-held scales right up to the very large Bank Of England Scales [used until recently to weigh the National Gold Reserves]. Precious metals due to their rarity have been important for trade and as a symbol of wealth for thousands of years, until 'paper money' was used regularly as payment for commodities and services. Therefore, accurate scales were needed so the exact weight of the precious metal as payment was known; with regulated bullion scales and weights becoming crucial to the 'fairness' of trade.

1795 Small Bullion Scales 2
How they would have been used in the 1790s

A Hand-Held Bullion Beam Scale From the 1790s
This original and boxed iron bullion scale with swan neck ends, brass pennyweights and grains [and later imperial troy oz weights] dates from the 1790s; stuck to the inside of the box lid is information about the gold and silver prices of the day in copperplate handwritting [this is a simple hand held equal-arm beam scale type, inexpensive to make and common even among dealers to the present day]. The box measures 6.5 inches (7cm) long by 3.5 inches (9cm) wide and 1.5 inches (3cm) deep.

Large Bullion Scale
Salter Troy Spring Scale

An 1870s Portable Bullion Scale With A Set Of Square Grain Weights
Made by Harvery Reynolds & Fowler, 10 Briggate Leeds and dating from the 1870s - this is
a well made example of a 'collapsible' portable bullion scale using the more unusual square
tapered grain weights from 500 grains to 10 grains and a box of smaller grain weights
down to 1 grain - each crafted part of the scale fits inside the drawer in fitted compartments, the sign of a more expensive and well constructed set of scales. The craftsmanship and
materials used in the making of this scale is finer and more delicate than on other similar scales. This is an equal-arm beam scale made of brass with a lever, which when released
allows the pans to rest, reducing the preasure on the knife-edges. The storage box is 10.5
inches (27cm) long by 6inches (15cm) wide and 2 inches (5cm) deep. The overall size of
the scale is 14 inches (36cm) tall.

A Late 1900s Salter Tubular Spring Balance
This popular and convenient design of scale utilises Hooke's Law of 1660. This Salter Spring Scale is marked
so that the distortion of the spring is proportionate to the load applied. Marked in Troy oz for use by a Jeweller this design was first made by Salter in 1820 (Geo.Salter & Co. of West Bromwich, England) there have been several variations on this design over many years. 12 inches (31cm) long.

Large Bullion Scale Museum Bullion Scale Collection

An 1870s Portable Bullion Beam Scale By W. A. Webb London
Made by W. A. Webb from St.Johns St E.C. London and dating from the 1870s - this 'collapsible' portable bullion scale is made more robustly than the earlier example above. However, it is also made more crudely and cheaply, using a common design, made of more basic materials; it also utilises the common brass cylindrical troy oz weights from 20 oz troy
to 1 oz troy. All the parts collapse down to fit in the box drawer, but there are no fitted
compartments except for a square boxed off partition for the weights to sit in.
This is an
equal-arm beam scale made of brass with a lever, which when released allows the pans to
rest, reducing the preasure on the knife-edges. The storage box is 14 inches (36cm) long
by 7 inches (18cm) wide and 3.5 inches (9cm) deep. The overall size of the scale is
19 inches (49cm) tall.

A Small Section Of The Museum Bullion Scales
The museum houses many different makers and mechanisms of bullion scales, from early 18th Century small hand-held scales to examples of the large 20th Century Bank Of England Scales.

Bank Of England Scales
Oertling Ltd. 'No. 3' Bank Of England Bullion Scales 1967

These scales were used by the Bank Of Enland in London to weigh the national gold reserves and were made in 1967 by L. Oertling Ltd Of London. They have a maximum weighing capacity of 1000 oz troy in each pan. The Minimum weighing of 0.5 oz troy with a weighing error margin on 0.1 oz troy. The museum has also the 'No. 1' scales; the Bank Of England used more than one scales to verify the weight of the gold being weighed and to cross check the results to ensure the continued accuracy of the scales. It is sitting on a bullion stand, also from the Bank of England (there are some small gold particles still imbedded in it, from where the gold bars were).
Bank Of England 400 Troy Oz Weight
Bank Of England Brass 400 Troy Oz Weight
This is a typical brass weight used by the Bank of England on the weighing scales opposite. This weight is stored in a box and has been marked as being calibrated by Sufolk Trading Standards Laboratory on the 18th May 2006 - before being retired in 2007 and replaced by Stainless Steel Weights.

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