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Sets of scales with weights, Iran, 1801-1900

This elaborately decorated box contains three sets of equal balance arm scales and weights. Equal balance arm scales suspend two disk shaped pans off either end of a horizontal pole. The weights in either pan must be equal for the pole to remain horizontal. Ingenious locking mechanisms reveal hidden aspects of the box. A spring-loaded button releases a small removable box containing a tiny set of scales, and removing a delicate pin reveals a hidden mirror. This example of boxed weighing scales dates from 1800s Iran. It was used in the medicine and jewellery trades. Both trades required the precise measurements of goods.

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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: scales - weighing device

Instruments for determining the weight of objects or substances.