~RARE FRENCH PROVINCIAL GRAIN SCALE with TWO SETS OF STANDARD BARS-SIGNED c. 1790~
1000 Euros ($1100 USD) + postage
A fine and rare set of French Provincial (Namur) 18th century grain scales with 2 dated sets of standard bars-cased
24 x 15 cm.
Country of manufacture
A stunning and rare set of French/Belgian/Flemish grain scales from the Namur Province with two cased sets of standard bars for the determination of the volume of grains (one late 18th century, the other early 19th century).
Consisting of a pie-shaped gauge (jauge) measuring 24 x 15 cm., this instrument is engraved “Diametres des Futailles, Longuer, Inclinasons de la Jauge”, “Erd. Sacre A Bruxelles” with further demarcations in the upper left and right corners “Facteurs” (from 0.80-1.48) and “Numeros de la Jauge” (7-1, 60-30 and 45-26 in descending order). Finely hand engraved and engine divided, it accounts for the variation that existed in France ( and French provinces) at the time. A nightmare !
The numbers correspond to two cased sets of toothed standard bars (one pre-revolutionary War) when standardisation was NOT the norm. At the time that this set was made there were said to be 250,000 different weights and measures systems in France; every province, city and town having their own. This set came from the French province of Namur in Belgium and was an attempt at standardisation among the chaos before the French (under Louis XVI) attempt c.1800. The mahogany cases measure 40 x 5 x 2 cm. deep with all hardware intact.
The gauge was intended to hang the toothed bars from a triangular steel pivot point at the base ( which can be adjusted from the rear by a knurled screw and a scale marked from 0-30). This pre-revolutionary set is superbly engraved by “F. Barbier graveur a Namur”-1790-1802 and includes scales and measures for the size and shape of the grain vessels. The bars also have lion rampant proof marks (after 1800?) and barrel sizes ranging from Rasiers to Litrons to Boisseau and their fractions thereof. The small bar simply marked DD, DC, DL, L an D with multiple variations as well. Volume ranging from 0-294.2 cm. cubed ? on both bars combined. The latter “standardised set” is less stylised with fewer engravings to simplify the job. This set would have belonged to a fellow with a head for numbers and the patience of Job. A complicated device indeed. Sacre must have been a genius to develop not only the scales but the bars that attached to the wide and varying size of the grain vessels. There is one other instrument in the London Science Museum by him, a level. I believe this to be a one off example. Don’t miss it !!!
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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