Scales, weights and measures find their genesis in mankind's need to trade. Their use and acceptance has grown over time. There is evidence going back as early as Egyptian times of scales being used.
In order to determine value and fairness a measurement system was required for comparison that was understood by all. Today the world has universally accepted standards for measurement of almost anything you can think of. It was not always the case. As recently as several hundred years ago one might find two entirely different methods of comparing and measuring goods in two towns only a few miles apart. Over time the need arose to develop standards, initially by the government of the day to facilitate the collection of taxes. International standards were eventually developed and implemented allowing for the world's societies to conduct science and to engage in commerce.
This site on Scales, Weights and Measures is dedicated to the preservation and history of such devices.
I have been an avid scale collector for over 20 years and have been a member of The International Society of Antique Scale Collectors (ISASC) for most of that time and currently I serve as its President.
The need to weigh mail began in 1840 with the issuance of the world's first postage stamp, the 'Penny Black' in Great Britain. Many enterprising manufacturers of the day rushed to produce devices that would weigh mail. Scales for commerce, the postal service and the home were soon widely available.
My initial interest in scale collecting grew from my interest in postage stamps. Having stumbled upon a postal scale at a flea market twenty years ago I acquired my first scale. I was intrigued how the postal rates by zone varied. I was hooked. Currently I have six hundred or so postage scales. They are all sorts, types and sizes from all over the globe. Over time my collection has expanded into the collection of weights, measures and other related items.