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Full text of “Apothecary Weight Tokens”

Full text of “Apothecary Weight Tokens”


HT 














What Are They? 


• Apothecary Weight Tokens were used 
by pharmaceutical chemists and bullion 
merchants from 1878 until the late 
1960's to measure out powders and 
medicines. However, there are much 
older specimens of pharmaceutical and 
medical weight tokens (similar to 
apothecary weight tokens) from Rome 
Holland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. 

• A balance beam scale was used to 
measure powder on one side and the 
apothecary weight token was put on the 
other side. When it balanced out, it was 
the correct measurement. Sets 
complete with apothecary weight 
tokens and a small scale usually come in 
wooden boxes, and are hard to find 
complete with all weight tokens and 
grains. 

• System began in Great Britain with the 
British Weights and Measures Act of 
1878. Reference to the troy pound was 
made illegal and trade could only legally 
continue in the troy ounce of 480 grains 
(one-twelfth of 5,760 grains). 






Msiketl 

*20 grains*,..,.make. 



3 scruples .. 

*..,.1 dram .... 


M drams... 


■i b m mm f B 1 ^ 

12 ounces ... 




What k the use of Apothecaries* Weight r— 
Apothecaries use this weight iu mixing their 
medicines, hut buy their drugs by Avoirtlupoise 
Weight, 












What Are They? Cont... 

An apothecaries weight is a version of the troy weight. Pounds and 
ounces still weigh the same as in troy weight, however, different units 
were used for the lighter weights. The smallest unit was the grain. 

Based on the troy weight system- each ounce equals 480 grains. These 
ounces are then divided into 8 drachms, which equal 60 grains each. 
One drachm equaled 3 scruples, which equaled 20 grains. Intermediate 
weight of 2 scruples, or 40 grains, existed. Also, an intermediate weight 
of 1 >2 scruples, or 30 grains, existed as well. 

Coin shaped apothecary weights have been objected to over the years 
by some who believe that too much dust accumulates in the deep 
inscriptions for them to be fully accurate. 

Square brass plates with shallow inscriptions or symbols are supposed 
to be superior to the coin shaped weights. 



Weights Consisted of 


• 3ss = 34 Scruple 

• 3 SS = 34 Drachm 

• 3i = 1 Scruple 

• 3 i = 1 Drachm 

• 3ij = 2 Scruples 

• 3 ij =2 Drachms 

• Some sets consisted of a 4 Drachm and 
an 8 Drachm as well 

• To complete the set of Apothecaries 
Weights there was also a set of 6 grain 
weights ( 1, 2 ,3,4,5 & 6 ) and sometimes 
also a 34 grain weight 

• 20 grains = 1 scruple = 1.296 grams; 3 
scruples = 1 drachm (dram) = 3.888 
grams; 8 drachms = 1 troy ounce = 31.1 
grams 


AVOIRDUPOIS 



Primary unit of weight is the grain. 



437.5 grains = 1 ounce 
(av. or.) 

16,0 ounces “ 1 pound 
(av. lb.) 



APOTHECARY 

APOTHECARY 


Primary unit of weight is the grain. 

Smallest unit of volume is the minim. 


20 grains (gr) = 1 «»up*e I 3) 

3 scruples « 1 dram ( y) 

8 drams 

(480 gr) - 1 ounce ( \) 

12 ounces = 1 pound (lb) 

60 minims (m) = 1 fluid dram ( y) 

8 fluid drams - 1 fluid ounce ( y) 

16 fluid ounces » 1 pint (0) 

2 pints - 1 quart (qt.) 

4 quarts - 1 gallon (Cong, or 

gal.) 


METRIC 

METRIC 

METRIC 

Primary unit of weight is the gram. 

1000 000 grams - 1 kilogram (kg) 

100.000 grams « 1 hectogram (hg) 

10.000 grains ** 1 dekagram (dkg) 

1.000 gram = 1 gram (gm) 

0.1 grain = 1 decigram (dg) 

0.01 gram - 1 centigram (eg) 

0.001 gram - 1 milligram (mg) 

Primary unit of volume is the liter. 

1000.000 liters - 1 kilolitcr (k!) 

100.000 liters - 1 hectoliter (hi) 

10.000 liters = 1 dekaliter (dkl) 

1.000 liter =1 liter (1) 

0.1 liter = I deciliter (dl) 

0.01 liter - 1 centiliter (cl) 

0.001 liter - 1 milliliter (mf) 

Primary unit of linear measure is the 
meter. 

1000.000 meters = 1 kilometer (km) 
100.000 meters = 1 hectometer (hm) 
10.000 meters = 1 dekameter (dkm) 

1.000 meter - 1 meter (m) 

0.1 meter - 1 decimeter (dm) 

0.01 meter - 1 centimeter (cm) 
0.001 meter » 1 millimeter (min) 


NOTE: The relationship of the banc units in the Metric System should be noted. The meter, which is 1/40,000.000 of the earth's polar cir¬ 
cumference. is the natural standard. The volume contained in 1/10 of a meter cubed is I liter. Hie weight of I cubic centimeter of distilled 
water is I gram. Crains of water arc approximately equivalent at all temperature ranges. Current usage prefers that ml rather than cc be used 
since it has been found that 1000 cc do not equal exactly I liter. 


SMMOCt 




Grain Weights 


• Generally made of thin sheet brass with 
value stamped on them 

• Grain weights were originally actual pieces 
of grain- first barley, then later on in Middle 
Ages, wheat (hence the name) 

• Most of the time, grain weights only had 
annulets stamped onto them. Annulets were 
holes punched onto the brass 

• In the beginning of the 20 th Century, the 
annulets were replaced by 'GR' which stood 
simply for grains or GRAINS spelled out fully 
if piece was large enough 

• Unique variations do exist: grain weights 
shaped in the numeral in which they weigh 
(a five grain shaped like the number 5 for 
example). These variations are rarer and 
generally sell these days for a high premium, 
especially in the UK 






















The Worshipful Company of Founders 


• Weights and measures were sized 
and tested as early as the sixteenth 
century- and apothecaries weights 
were no different. 

• Weights and measures were sized 
and tested as a source of income for 
assayers and to prevent dishonesty 
from merchants. A six-pointed star 
found stamped anywhere on a 
weight token means it was found 
unsuitable for further use. 

• One assayer was The Worshipful 
Company of Founders of London. 
Here is what their webpage says on 
the matter: 

https://www.foundersco.org.uk/weig 

hts-and-measures 












The First Apothecary Weight Designs 

Unknown manufacturer(s) 

Brass, stamped on obverse only (blank reverse) 

Rough design- cut kind of square and then filed down to correct weight 

These early sets came out around the same time as London's Worshipful Society of 
Apothecaries was becoming more influential; it is thought that they may have 
been responsible for these early sets of apothecary weight tokens (in the 18 th 
century, only the Society would have had the contract to supply apothecary weight 
tokens, scales, etc. to the Army and the Admiralty). 



Avery Weights 


• W & T Avery Ltd of Birmingham (other 
factories may have made Avery weights as 
well- maker's initials B. & 'S.) 

• One of the most important weight makers in 
British Empire in the 19 th Century 

• Difficult to date (1847 may indicate date of 
patent on some W. & T.A. tokens) 

• Made coin and lozenge shaped weights 

• From 1842 to 1883 weights had a diamond 
shaped registration mark on them 

• From 1847 to 1911 weights marked 'W & T 
Avery' on larger weights and 'W.T.A.' on 
smaller weights 

• Coin shaped Avery weights generally have an 
English crown on them 








Set of early Avery grain weights 







JLB Weights 

• Prolific British 
manufacturer of 
medicine kits for 
household use that 
included weights with 
initials on them 

• Only known by initials- 
little else known 




H. Troemner 

• Prolific apothecary weight token maker in 
Philadelphia. 

• Troemner was a German locksmith who 
immigrated to the U.S. and settled down 
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1838 

• Began making pharmaceutical balances in 
1840, later started making coin weights- 
all signed with one of the following: H. 
TROEMNER, H. TROEMNER PHILA., H.T. 
PHILA., or only H.T Philadelphia is 
sometimes (and unusually) abbreviated 
as PHILADA. 


■ 



John. M. Maris 


• Made American pharmaceutical 
weights (drams and scruples) 

• Only signed with an M inside a 
diamond shape. 




Address on these for this maker is 
PHILA& NEW YORK. 







P. Rogers & Co. 

• Peter Rogers & Company, address is 48 
Green St., Deritend, Birmingham. 

• Firm established in 1820 

• Manufactured scales and brass and iron 
apothecaries weights 


Little else known 




CWTs Issued Looking 
Like Apothecary 
Weight Tokens 


• JOHN P. GRUBER - New York scale and 
weight maker who issued 1863 Civil War 
token advertising his shop ('one dram' 
token). Cent sized copper token inscribed 
APOTH. WEIGHT [with Am. eagle on 2 
laurel branches] / ONE DRAM / 1863 on 
obverse; on reverse has JOHN P. 

GRUBER/ [a scale]/ New York. Other 
similar civil war tokens of John P. 

Gruber's have his address-178 Chatham 
SQ. 

• HORTER - CWT used as a one dram 
weight. Reverse inscribed as 
ESTABLISHED / A. [2 story 3 window 
house] D./1850. WARMKESSEL HORTER. 
Token size of one cent and is brass. 

Maker is Horter. 






What Happened To Them? 

In the 1960's a law was passed in Australia that introduced metric weights. This 
made apothecary weights obsolete and they were formally abolished. 

Soon after they were abolished, it became illegal to even have them on pharmacy 
premises in Australia. 

In 1978, apothecary weights were formally abolished in the United Kingdom as well 
[by the Weights and Measures Act of 1978], and then the United States. Everything 
was replaced by metric weights in these countries as well. 



References 


Home
https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/res earchguidance/weightsandmeasures/weights.aspx
Catalogue
Shire Album 44: Weights and Measures by J.T. Graham Scales & Weights: A Historical Outline by Bruno Kisch Photo Credits (in order) • https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/weightsandmeasures/ weights.aspx • http://pkperfumes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Apothecarv-Weights-and-Measurements-Tutorial- rev6-12.pdf • http://www.gilai.com/product 580/A-Set-Qf-Brass-Lozenge-Shaped-Apothecaries-Weights-Made-bv-Avery • http://livervdatabase.liverycompanies.info/networks/575/index.html • https://picclick.co.uk/VICTORIAN-AVERY-GRAIN5-WEIGHT5-cl870-1880s-5TAMPED-VR-372265881252.html • https://www.ebav.com/itm/TW0-SCRUPLES-3ii-J-L-B-AP0THECARY-WEIGHT-TQKEN-VERY-RARE- /202497946679 • https://www.ebay.com/itm/0NE-DRACHM-3i-H-TR0EMNER-PHILADA-AP0THECARY-WEIGHT-TQKEN-RARE- /202497881483 • https://www.etsy.com/listing/623779305/one-drachm-3i-phila-m-ny-apothecarv • https://polvbull.com/product/five-victorian-apothecary-weights-p-rogers-co-202511630197 • https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/ephesus numismatics/56/product/john p gruber 1863 civil war store card token ny630agla one dram/643199/Default.aspx 1 □ Apothecary Weight Tokens By Rachael Wieaand 02/20/2019 2 □ What Are They? ° Apothecary Weight Tokens were used by pharmaceutical chemists and bullion merchants from 1878 until the late 1960's to measure out powders and medicines. However, there are much older specimens of pharmaceutical and medical weight tokens (similar to apothecary weight tokens) from Rome Holland, Germany, Austria, and Italy. ° A balance beam scale was used to measure powder on one side and the apothecary weight token was put on the other side. When it balanced out, it was the correct measurement. Sets complete with apothecary weight tokens and a small scale usually come in wooden boxes, and are hard to find complete with all weight tokens and grains. ° System began in Great Britain with the British Weights and Measures Act of 1878. Reference to the troy pound was made illegal and trade could only legally continue in the troy ounce of 480 grains (one-twelfth of 5,760 grains). 3 □ What Are They? Cont... 0 An apothecaries weight is a version of the troy weight. Pounds and ounces still weigh the same as in troy weight, however, different units were used for the lighter weights. The smallest unit was the grain. ° Based on the troy weight system- each ounce equals 480 grains. These ounces are then divided into 8 drachms, which equal 60 grains each. One drachm equaled 3 scruples, which equaled 20 grains. Intermediate weight of 2 scruples, or 40 grains, existed. Also, an intermediate weight of 1 Vz scruples, or 30 grains, existed as well. • Coin shaped apothecary weights have been objected to over the years by some who believe that too much dust accumulates in the deep inscriptions for them to be fully accurate. 0 Square brass plates with shallow inscriptions or symbols are supposed to be superior to the coin shaped weights. 4 Q Weights Consisted of: ° 3ss = Vz Scruple ° 3 ss = Vz Drachm 0 3i = 1 Scruple ° 3 i =1 Drachm ° 3ij = 2 Scruples ° 3 ij = 2 Drachms ° Some sets consisted of a 4 Drachm and an 8 Drachm as well ° To complete the set of Apothecaries Weights there was also a set of 6 grain weights (1,2,3,4,5 8i 6) and sometimes also a Vz grain weight ° 20 grains = 1 scruple = 1.296 grams; 3 scruples = 1 drachm (dram) = 3.888 grams; 8 drachms = 1 troy ounce = 31.1 grams 5 □ Grain Weights o Generally made of thin sheet brass with value stamped on them ° Grain weights were originally actual pieces of grain- first barley, then later on in Middle Ages, wheat (hence the name) » Most of the time, grain weights only had annulets stamped onto them. Annulets were holes punched onto the brass ° In the beginning of the 20 th Century, the annulets were replaced by 'GR' which stood simply for grains or GRAINS spelled out fully if piece was large enough 0 Unique variations do exist: grain weights shaped in the numeral in which they weigh (a five grain shaped like the number 5 for example). These variations are rarer and generally sell these days for a high premium, especially in the UK 6 0 The Worshipful Company of Founders ° Weights and measures were sized and tested as early as the sixteenth century- and apothecaries weights were no different. » Weights and measures were sized and tested as a source of income for assayers and to prevent dishonesty from merchants. A six-pointed star found stamped anywhere on a weight token means it was found unsuitable for further use. ° One assayer was The Worshipful Company of Founders of London. Here is what their webpage says on the matter: https://www.foundersco.ora.uk/weiahts-and-measures 7 ru The First Apothecary Weight Designs ° Unknown manufacturer(s) 0 Brass, stamped on obverse only (blank reverse) ° Rough design- cut kind of square and then filed down to correct weight ° These early sets came out around the same time as London's Worshipful Society of Apothecaries was becoming more influential; it is thought that they may have been responsible for these early sets of apothecary weight tokens (in the 18 th century, only the Society would have had the contract to supply apothecary weight tokens, scales, etc. to the Army and the Admiralty). 8 □ Avery Weights ° W 8i T Avery Ltd of Birmingham (other factories may have made Avery weights as well- maker's initials B. & 'S.) o One of the most important weight makers in British Empire in the 19 th Century » Difficult to date (1847 may indicate date of patent on some W. & T.A. tokens) 0 Made coin and lozenge shaped weights ° From 1842 to 1883 weights had a diamond shaped registration mark on them ° From 1847 to 1911 weights marked 'W & T Avery' on larger weights and 'W.T.A.' on smaller weights 0 Coin shaped Avery weights generally have an English crown on them 10:0 JLB Weights ° Prolific British manufacturer of medicine kits for household use that included weights with initials on them ° Only known by initials- little else known 11 □ H. Troemner ® Prolific apothecary weight token maker in Philadelphia. 0 Troemner was a German locksmith who immigrated to the U.S. and settled down in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1838 ° Began making pharmaceutical balances in 1840, later started making coin weights- all signed with one of the following: H. TROEMNER, H. TROEMNER PHILA., H.T. PHILA., or only H.T. Philadelphia is sometimes (and unusually) abbreviated as PHILADA. 12 □ John. M. Maris ° Made American pharmaceutical weights (drams and scruples) ° Only signed with an M inside a diamond shape. ° Address on these for this maker is PHILA & NEW YORK. 13 □ P. Rogers & Co. ° Peter Rogers 8l Company, address is 48 Green St., Deritend, Birmingham. 0 Firm established in 1820 ® Manufactured scales and brass and iron apothecaries weights ° Little else known 14 Q CWTs Issued Looking Like Apothecary Weight Tokens ° JOHN P. GRUBER - New York scale and weight maker who issued 1863 Civil War token advertising his shop ('one dram' token). Cent sized copper token inscribed APOTH. WEIGHT [with Am. eagle on 2 laurel branches] / ONE DRAM / 1863 on obverse; on reverse has JOHN P. GRUBER/ [a scale]/ New York. Other similar civil war tokens of John P. Gruber's have his address- 178 Chatham SQ. ° HORTER - CWT used as a one dram weight. Reverse inscribed as ESTABLISHED / A. [2 story 3 window house] D./1850. WARMKESSEL HORTER. Token size of one cent and is brass. Maker is Horter. o 15 O What Happened To Them? ® In the 1960's a law was passed in Australia that introduced metric weights. This made apothecary weights obsolete and they were formally abolished. ° Soon after they were abolished, it became illegal to even have them on pharmacy premises in Australia. ® In 1978, apothecary weights were formally abolished in the United Kingdom as well [by the Weights and Measures Act of 1978], and then the United States. Everything was replaced by metric weights in these countries as well. 3

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