A spectacular and rare set of 18th C. gold assay scales with full 1772 weights (Guinea, 1/2 Guinea, 1/4 Guinea) and pennyweights stamped from 4 down to 1 (24 grains), all housed in a wooden insert and in their original rectangular tin box with conversion chart in lid.
Ornate equal arm scales with brass pans (stamped one and two), original stringing, chiselled beam, ornate double pierced, tear-drop gallows and supension ring loop. These scales were intended to be hung over the edge of a desk and are perfectly balanced to do so, thanks to the weight of the box. There is a pin in the case that inserts into a sleeve on the end of the box. The pin terminates in another insert with steel loop (replaced due to loss at some juncture). Using this upright, the scales are suspended and hang a few inches over the edge of a desktop. They could also be hand held but the desktop feature is steadier for sure measurement.
The weights are all matching (the Guinea well used and oxidized from handling) and are from a key period in coinage history. Due to coin clipping and a new standard (introduced Jan.1 1772), these coin/gold weights and their corresponding chart mark the end of an era and hence it’s state of preservation. There is even an applied label warning of penalties for coin shortage weight to the merchant and vendor. I believe these scales were for professional use as most scales of this era were hand held and found in baise lined OVAL tins or wooden cases. The coin weights alone are worth 100 GBP +
The rectangular tin box is hinged at the rear, has ornate 18th century paper inside and two round inserts for the weights (slotted in wooden keeper) and for the brass pans, just to keep everything separated and intact. With all of the paraphernalia in the case, it is a tight squeeze but everything fits as it should. I have owned many coin/gold scales over the decades, including folding Guinea scales but this is the first I have seen in a rectangular case with slot designation for the weights.
The box measures 12.5 x 6 x 2.5 cm. deep, the steel beam is 12 cm. and the brass pans are 5 cm. in diameter. A more complete and early set you may never see again. A rare survivor of a key transition date. 20 photos.
Ask the Dealer
Mark Hacking (Scientifica Opticae Inc.) has been an avid collector/dealer for over 30 years. A former Science teacher, he has an innate love for anything natural or mechanical. Specializing in optical (microscopes, telescopes), surveying, medical, weighing and drawing instruments, he is an active participant of the Scientific Instrument Fair in London. Living in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and two children; Mark looks forward to meeting as many fellow collectors as possible, and has a worldwide following on eBay (Sciopti).
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