Author Topic: Apothecaries weights  (Read 9874 times)

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Offline redwine

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Apothecaries weights
« on: August 13, 2014, 03:22:48 PM »
Apothecary's weight
Brass 120 grains, Two drachms = 3ij with 'Board of Trade' portcullis
Square 17mm
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 10:47:54 AM by Figleaf »
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: 3ij Portcullis
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 10:46:31 AM »
The 3-like sign is the symbol for dram. The ij symbol is a Roman 2, with the j replacing the final i, presumably to make sure the apothecary staff would understand where the figure ends. The whole therefore reads as 2 dram, indeed 120 grains or ¼ troy ounce (7.78 grams.) More information on symbols and system here.

Meanwhile, here is another such weight. The turned around euro sign means scruple of 1/12 troy ounce or 40 grains (2 scruples = 2.529 grams). I presume the crown constitutes some sort of official approval.

Peter
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Offline EWC

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Re: 3ij Portcullis
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 11:42:56 AM »
The 3-like sign is the symbol for dram. The ij symbol is a Roman 2, with the j replacing the final i, presumably to make sure the apothecary staff would understand where the figure ends. The whole therefore reads as 2 dram, indeed 120 grains or ¼ troy ounce (7.78 grams.) More information on symbols and system here.

The Wiki page Peter links to has a lot of useful fact on it, but IMO is rather fundamentally misguided as regards to the history of weight standards.  As I understand it, the page is almost entirely the work of a mathematician, Hans Adler, done in his spare time whilst in Post at Leeds University more than 7 years ago.  I tried to arrange a personal meet when I first saw it, but Adler declined (because he would soon be moving to Vienna, as I best recall).  I offered to continue to debate the matter privately or on a web group also, but he never replied.  Looking at the web, its not clear to me where he now is, as he is listed as a former student at Vienna.

Actually, people who write wiki pages seem to me inflexible individuals who do not welcome criticism, and this tends to be true of historical metrologists too - so not a surprise about a guy who is both.

The wiki pages on historical metrology are mostly poor, actually, this is better than most - but I suggest all are taken with a pinch of salt

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2015, 12:54:52 PM »
It's not so much people who write wiki pages but groups. Individuals do major contributions on all levels of quality. However, they are endlessly picked over by editors plus a few incurable cantankerous individuals, who determine, more than the author, what is on the wiki page.

In general, this system works and produces good or better results, but it demotivates authors. In addition, wikipedia is not for iconoclasts. The insistence on sources and notes means you can only repeat what people have said in the past. If you have something different or new to say, you will lose. Fight it out somewhere else and once it is accepted, change it in wiki with notes.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline bruce61813

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2015, 04:12:43 AM »
Or get it published, and use that as a source .....

bruce

Offline Pellinore

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2015, 06:52:18 AM »
See here for a bit more light on the matter. This round or Russian E mirrored is the symbol of the scruple. (The dram or drachm has the 3-like symbol.)

ii or ij is 2 in Roman characters. The ij form one often encounters in medieval and early modern books and manuscripts.

A scruple weighs 20 grains or 1.296 grams, as the online Enc. Brittannica shows. So 2 scruples weigh 2.592 grams. 3 scruples is a dram, 3.888 grams, which is not far from the usual weight of a Greek drachm.

So this weight says "Two Scruples" in two ways, words and symbols. It should weigh 2.592 grams.
-- Paul

Offline malj1

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2015, 09:14:11 AM »
Here is a selection of apothecaries weights, an accumulation rather than a collection!

All brass except for one in steel. Notice too one has the reverse filed, an adjustment with 2 scruple counter-marked into it.

W&T Avery. = William and Thomas Avery

P. Rogers & Co

I shall have to research J. L. B.
Malcolm
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2015, 09:31:35 AM »
It's good to have so many scruples, Malcolm :) You may call it an accumulation, I'll call it a smile maker. Great photo.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline EWC

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2015, 09:35:03 AM »
It's not so much people who write wiki pages but groups.

Not in this case – see the talk page – Adler writes (correctly)

HA > I am practically the exclusive author of this article.

Fight it out somewhere else

Where would that be?  The system whereby independent and state sponsored scholars once collaborated has broken down.

A scruple weighs 20 grains or 1.296 grams, as the online Enc. Brittannica shows. So 2 scruples weigh 2.592 grams. 3 scruples is a dram, 3.888 grams, which is not far from the usual weight of a Greek drachm.

Call the troy 16 oz pound “Z”

The troy drachm is by definition a binary splitting of Z

Z x 1/128

There are lots of very different “Greek drachms”.  The most prominent, the Attic drachm, for instance seems to be

Z x 7/8 x 1/100

Which is mathematically (and physically) rather different.  (c. 4.37g)

All educated people in trade in the 17th century would have known such things.

When I spoke on the matter at Jesus College, Oxford, a younger fellow of the college asked me “What is troy weight?”.

(To be fair on the college, the elderly senior professor looking on winced when he heard it)

I since saw the younger fellow on TV, introduced as an expert of the doomsday book…………….

Offline malj1

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2015, 10:00:18 AM »
Another set of weights that I have had since the 1950's at which time they still were in use.

...no relation.
Malcolm
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2015, 10:01:08 AM »
I am getting more and more interested in weights, EWC, and it's your doing. Too much of the information is still amorphous, but I am slowly getting there. I used to be content transforming weights e.g. in coinage instructions in grams, but I see now that they provide insight in economic influence. The difference between "my ducat shall be as heavy as my neighbour's ducat" and "my ducat shall be slightly lighter than my neighbour's ducat" is almost (economic) war and peace and "my gold whatshammacallit shall be as heavy as my neighbour's ducat" is a great indication of economic influence (beyond mere trade flows), while "my gold coin shall be 1/24th of my weight standard and damn the neighbours" is an indication of isolation(ist thinking). Of course, that can be measured in grams also, but I suspect, relations will be more obvious in older weights.

I am not at the point where I can tackle historical developments. However, I note that for centuries, science was basically a fascination with ancient texts and (spurious) quotes of ancient authors. Within such an approach, I can very well see how a mix of ancient weight standards, confusion and ignorance could have led to assigning names like drachme and troy to standard weight (systems) of a much later age.

For those developing thoughts in a similar direction, here are two ECW contributions to the field:

https://www.academia.edu/10433448

https://www.academia.edu/6882687

The first revises the position laid out in the second – which remains the general big picture.

Have fun.

Peter
« Last Edit: July 15, 2015, 07:57:24 AM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline malj1

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2015, 07:53:11 AM »
My father put it another way when in the greengrocers one day he said "So how much is it without your thumb?"  ::)
Malcolm
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Offline malj1

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2015, 08:10:52 AM »
This is a catalogue of apothecaries weights.

He states the maker J.L.B. is unknown. A remark that is repeated elsewhere.

We may perhaps locate this from the numismatic angle, it looks familiar.
Malcolm
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Offline EWC

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2015, 08:52:36 AM »
but I see now that they provide insight in economic influence.

Yes – actually I would make it insights, as there are a number of different things going on

What comes out clearly from the varying European apothecaries systems, is the way metrology meshes with trade protectionism.  Price structures are rather opaque across state borders because of the different systems.  Its not that different to the brand wars fought out today on supermarket shelves, via differing packet sizes etc.

And the same thing spills over into coin weight.  The most troubling aspect of this I see is the way the heavier weights (pounds and marks) in different states were typically related by simple ratios, the lighter weights (pennies and deniers) by more complex ratios.  It tends towards a system which is transparent to a financial elite, but opaque it for the rest.  (there are some exceptions – the gros tournois for instance)

Akbar reportedly offered to ally with any external prince if he accepted just two conditions:

1)  He adopted Akbar’s metrology

2)  He made Akbar’s currency legal tender

Offline malj1

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Re: Apothecaries weights
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2015, 08:54:34 AM »
Another useful site here with a list of names.

Names on weights: Research into manufacturers etc. of British weights.
Malcolm
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.