Your Guide to Apothecary Weights and Scales

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Your Guide to Apothecary Weights and Scales

Before buying apothecary weights and scales, explore their origins and uses. Find out how to determine the products' worth to make an informed purchase. Finally, consider long term maintenance of the weight and its scales.


Origin of Apothecary Weights and Scales

Apothecary weights and scales originate from the Roman weight system. The system uses pounds, ounces, and scruple. There is another system that originates from Salerno, but it evolved into something similar to the Roman system of measurement. Antique apothecary weights and scales differ based on the country from which they hail, although they all date back to the Roman Empire. For example, the standard was 12 ounces in 1 pound, but France deviated to 16 ounces, and Spain used 8 ounces.


Using Apothecary Weights and Scales

Using an apothecary scale is often as simple as placing an object on one side of it and waiting for the device to determine its weight. The scale should have a feature to adjust its level. Some antique scales come with their original weights, which is uncommon but quite useful for ensuring the scale is level. It is important for the scale to be on a level surface. Of course, a modern scale is more likely to produce accurate results, but having a vintage scale in the home is a novelty in and of itself.


Buying Apothecary Weights and Scales

Apothecary weights and scales are rarely used outside classrooms, museums, and antique shop. They are largely for display purposes since modern digital scales are convenient and level themselves. To buy an apothecary scale and its weights, you may want to look at local antique shops or online. In fact, you'll have the most luck finding a set online due to the item's rarity. If you are looking for a purely decorative scale, there are more options available to you.


Determining the Value of Antique Apothecary Weights and Scales

After finding an antique scale, you need to assess its worth to determine how much to pay the seller. Apothecary weights and scales can be thousands of years old. However, someone who is selling to an individual rather than a museum likely has a relatively recent scale and weights; for example, something from the 1700's to 1800's. Either way, if you are unsure about what to pay, it's time to turn to an antiques dealer for help. Make sure this third party is unbiased and works on a fee schedule that has nothing to do with the final sale price of the apothecary weights and scales.


Maintaining Apothecary Weights and Scales

Maintaining apothecary weights and scales largely consists of keeping the scale level. The device might also be treated for rust or corrosion, depending on its material. Antique apothecary weights and scales are rarely painted, so chipping paint or unsafe paint shouldn't be a problem.

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