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Weighing and measuring machine by John Joseph Merlin, London, 1760-1803

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John Joseph Merlin (1735-1803) was a Dutch inventor. He learned his trade as a mathematical instrument maker in Paris. Merlin moved to England in 1760. He founded his mathematical instrument-making business in 1773. Merlin invented this weighing machine. He also set up “Merlin’s Mechanical Museum”. This featured instruments such as weighing machines, clocks and even a device allowing blind people to play cards. His museum was popular in London as a place of amusement and instruction. Merlin, something of an entrepreneur, is also believed to have popularised roller skates.

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Glossary: weighing machine

A machine (sometimes referred to as a scale) for weighing persons, objects or large weights.

Glossary: measurement

Measurement is the process of estimating the magnitude of some attribute of an object, such as its length or weight, relative to some standard (unit of measurement), such as a meter or a kilogram. The act of measuring usually involves using a measuring instrument, such as a ruler, weighing scale, thermometer or speedometer which is calibrated to compare the measured attribute to a measurement unit. Metrology is the scientific study of measurement.

Glossary: personal weigher

weighing machine or device specifically for determing the weight of an individual person, usually but not always in a domestic environment. Characterised by weighing platform or chair, based on the steelyard lever principle (Distinct from bathroom scales)