Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Fine Kettle of Fish

How do you Measure an Anvil ?


EUROPEAN Anvils, and many (most) modern cast steel alloy anvils, will be marked in KILOGRAMS. For you Americans, 1 kg = 2.2 lbs.
(Join the rest of the world, will you?)

'Antique' - so forged - Anvils will be marked in HUNDREDWEIGHT (cwt) / QUARTERS  (qwt) / POUNDS.
A QUARTER is 1/4 of the hundredweight.

AMERICAN Anvils have the weights defined under their own 'rationalized' system (appears to date back to the Revolution ?) use the 'short hundredweight' :
100 lbs = 1 hundred weight
25 lbs = 1 quarter

GERMAN Anvils use the 'long hundredweight' :
120 lbs = 1 hundred weight
30 lbs = 1 quarter

BRITISH Anvils use the original Imperial system, with an ancient history (see bellow)
112 lbs = 1 hundred weight
28 lbs = 1 quarter.

Anvils historically were made in size 'ranges', about:
1 hundred weight (typically farmer's anvils)
1 cwt + 2 qwt (typically small rural blacksmiths)
2 cwt (typically urban shops or carriage works)
3 cwt (typically mines, rail yards or other industrial)
4 cwt + (typically ship yards)
Although produced in a size class, each anvil was individually marked with its exact finished weight before it left the factory.

Check the rear side (horn placed to left hand, the side away from you).
There should be three groups of numbers punched in, typically placed across the narrow 'throat' area.
Run the math for your actual weight.

See also my 'Guide to Purchase an Anvil' :

At 112 pounds ??
Where the heck does that come from ???

Honestly, although I was well aware that this came from ancient British ideas about measuring things, I had always wondered.
Tracking this down proved worse than I imagined!
(A lot of Wikipedia references here.)

The hundredweight has had many different values. In England in around 1300, various different "hundreds" (centem in Medieval Latin) were defined. The Weights and Measures Act of 1835 formally established the present imperial hundredweight of 112 lb.

The Weights and Measures Act of 1835 defined the Imperial hundredweight as comprised of 8 STONES.

... Established the imperial stone & hundredweight of 14 and 112 lbs. respectively, based on the wool stone of Edward III

Now it gets weird...
You see the stature above refers to a much earlier system - the 'standardized' (??) system as defined by Edward 3 - 1350. The STONE as the base unit :
...every Stone to weigh 14 lb

You see 'pounds' as a base unit. Problem is that there were at least THREE different 'pounds' in use :
Troy / Avoirdupois / London (Tower)

Depending on what you might be measuring (silver / fish / iron) you might be using one or another of those base 'pounds'. And to further mess this all up - a "Hundred' refers to different counts of different units - depending on the type of material being measured out.
If you are interested (and want to get really confused here) check the article on Troy Ounce - which has a good conversion chart between all those:

So now we have to make a step even further back - to the 'codified' set by Edward 1 - 1303.
Per Ordinance of the whole realm of England the measure of the King is composed namely of a penny, which is called a sterling, round & without clipping, weighs thirty-two grains of wheat in the middle of the Ear.
And an ounce weighs twenty pence. And twelve ounces make a pound of London. And twelve & a half pounds make a stone of London.
But in other things the pounds contains fifteen ounces, the ounce in either case weighs twenty pence. …
But the hundred of iron and shillings consists of 100. The sheaf of [steel] consists of thirty pieces. The Dozen of iron consists of six pieces.
The system called tower weight was the more general name for King Offa's pound. This dates to 757 AD and was based on the silver penny. This in turn was struck over Arabic dirhams (2d). The pound was based on the weight of 120 Arabic silver dirhams, which have been found in Offa's Dyke.
The tower pound was equivalent to about 350 grams.[30][31]
1 tower pound (12 oz) = 7,680 tower grains = 5,400 troy grains
1 tower ounce (20 dwt) = 640 tower grains = 450 troy grains
1 tower pennyweight (dwt) = 32 tower grains = 22 1⁄2 troy grains

You see that the standardized 'Silver Penny' as the base weight unit. It is defined by a number of wheat grains- the PENNYWIEGHT. Ounces and Pounds are counts of these coins. (Partially blame the Danes for this - 500 years earlier!)

Before this, it gets really weird :
The Latin edition of the Assize of Weights and Measures, one of the statutes of uncertain date from around the year 1300, describes hundreds of (red) herring (a long hundred of 120 fish), beeswax, sugar, pepper, cumin, and alum ("13½ stone, each stone containing 8 pounds" or 108 Tower lbs.), coarse and woven linen, hemp canvas (a long hundred of 120 ells), and iron or horseshoes and shillings (a short hundred of 100 pieces).[1]

Later versions used the Troy or avoirdupois pounds in their reckonings instead and included hundreds of fresh herrings (a short hundred of 100 fish)

So - Based on Edward 1 measures :
One Penny = 2.92 gm
20 Penny = one Ounce = 58.4 gm
one Pound (iron) = 15 Ounce = 876 gm
one Hundred (iron) = 100 Ounces = 87.6 kg

That makes the 1303 'iron hundred' = 192.7 (modern) pounds

Is that a LONG hundred, or a SHORT hundred - of herring?

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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