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Williamsburg's official town weights and measures cabinet and accessories
TitleWilliamsburg's official town weights and measures cabinet and accessories
Full Size Image
SubjectWeights, Balance; Weights and measures--History; Weights and measures--Law and legislation--Massachusetts
DescriptionThis is a large (66 inch W x 77 inch H x 24 inch D) elaborately faux-grained wooden cabinet housing a beautifully machined precision equal-arm balance, a graduated set of weights for use on it, several graduated sets of containers for measuring dry and liquid volumes, and a heavy brass yardstick. There is an externally mounted iron gimbal in which some of the larger containers can be mounted, filled and emptied. These implements were used, under Acts of the Mass. legislature adopted in 1847 and 1848, by Williamsburg's Sealer of Weights and Measures, an elected town official, to calibrate the scales and other measuring devices of local merchants. This ensured that their measurements of the goods purchased by their customers were fair and accurate. The use of these tools was discontinued by the end of 1946, when the cabinet and its contents were placed in storage. The cabinet and balance bear various paper labels (some of them advertisements) and engraved inscriptions identifying their maker as Howard & Davis of Boston, Massachusetts, a firm that was in existence from 1847 until 1858, and that in 1848 obtained a state contract for the manufacture of balances for towns, counties and cities in accordance with the Acts mentioned above. The whole ensemble was photographed in the Meekins Library in 2011. For a detailed account of this set, its origins and uses, see Weighed in a Just Balance: Weights and Measures at Meekins Library, Williamsburg, Massachusetts, ' a short essay by George Fleck dated April 2009, in the Local History - Williamsburg - Weights and Measures vertical files of the Meekins Library.
CreatorHoward & Davis, Boston, Massachusetts
ContributorsPhotographed by Eric Weber
IdentifierWeights & Measures
RelationPart of the Meekins Library, Williamsburg, Mass., Local History Objects Collection.
RightsPermission to publish the image must be obtained from the Meekins Library by writing to or Meekins Library, Williamsburg, Mass., must be credited as the original source of the item for all use.
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