The Allure of The Antique Miniature Postal Scale
In 1840 the postage stamp was introduced in The United Kingdom. Up until that time charges for mail were determined by the number of sheets and the distance traveled. With the advent of the postage stamp and the requirement to charge a postage fee based on the weight there arose a need for postal scales. In late 1839 and early 1940 many such devises were introduced to the market. They came in all sizes.
Larger ones were required for all post offices, however many smaller and often very decorative postal scales were designed for use in the home. It was not unusual for there to be a small postal scale, similar to the one shown here, on the desk in many homes in Britain from 1840 right up to the 1940. But there was still another classification of postal scale that I have labeled the "miniatures". These scales are generally two inches or smaller and are usually spring or pendulum scales. Often they were carried in ladies handbag or were placed on a necklace and worn as jewelery. These small scales have become very collectible and have become relatively hard to find.
one that I have found is British. It displays both the weight and the required postage on either side of the center slot. It weighs from 0 to 6 ounces, and the rates range from 1d for mail up to 1 ounce to 2 1/2d for 6 ounces It is a tubular spring scale when fully extended from ring to letter clip it is 1 3/4 inches long and it is 3/16 inches wide. The letter is attached to the small clip at the bottom. There is no maker's mark but there is a Registration number Rd105707. The scale is nicely finished with a gold guilt. This scale was most likely worn on a chain. It dates between 1870 and 1897.
This next scale is very unique and extremely rare. It is a British spring scale that is designed to work if dangled over a flat surface. The small strip extending vertically from the body of the scale is placed perhaps on a table, a weight of some sort would then be placed on it to keep it stationary. A letter then would be placed in the clip and the weight and rates could then be read. It is made from brass with a steel spring and letter clip. It measures 2 1/2 inches in length and the body is 3/16 inches. It displays only the postal rates with three gradations 1d, 2d and 4d. There is no maker's mark but it is enscribed "Registered Sep. 6 1853.
This lovely little antique gold guilt spring postal scale is also British. It measures from the ring to the letter clip 1 3/4 inches, is 1 inch wide and is 1/4 inch deep. The scale on the left is for the weight and measures up to 6 ounces. The scale on the right is for the postal rates and goes up to 2 1/2d. As with the scale above there is no maker's mark but there is a registration number Rd112080. This scale also doubles a a stamp box. The back is hinged on the left and opens to receive small stamps of the day.
This little gem is a unique antique American postal scale
. It was produced as a souvenir for the New Orleans Exhibition 1884 & 1885. It is combination postal scale, envelope opener and cigar cutter. It was designed by Adler C. Clausen of Minneapolis Minnesota and was assigned patent No. 314,801, dated March 31st 1885.
In the patent description is the following 'My invention relates to a letter-scale &c., combined with a charm to be worn about the person, preferably on a watch-guard; and it consists in the combination of devices herein after described and claimed.' The body is made from brass and the slip ring is made from flat spring-steel. Engraved on the front is a measurement scale that reads left to right and starts at zero
and is graduated in ounces from 1/4 ounce up to 2 1/2 ounces. As well there is a depiction of a pelican sitting on a nest. Around the top engraved is 'Patent Applied For'. The back has
engravings relative to the New Orleans Exhibition. A laurel reef surrounds an engraving of a man pushing a bale of cotton on a wheeler; under that is 'Exposition, New Orleans, 1884 & 85. It is unclear whether Clausen manufactured these scale or farmed them out to a fabricator. I have no idea in what quantities they were produced. They are very rare, this is the only one I have seen.
This pretty little brass pendulum postage scale was made in France by the Narcisse Briais Company. It was made for the Great Britain market as it measures in ounces. The measurement scale reads from left to right and goes up in 1/4 ounce increments to 2 ounces. The center has the Narcisse Briais 'N.B.' logo. It measures 2 1/4 by 1 1/4 inches. As with other small letter scales it was probably carried in a lady's handbag or worn on a chain.
The French also made this little fellow. It is made from decorative folded sheet metal. The body has an embossed inscription both on the front and Back.
On the front is "PESE-LETTRES de POCHE" (Pocket Letter Scale). The back has "J. ROGET 30 BD. DES CAPUCINES 30". It is my assumption that J. Roget is a retailer of some sort and has used this letter scale as an advertising give away. Inside there is a spring metal strip to which is attached a chain and a letter clip that dangles through the bottom when held. The pointer indicating the weight is pulled down across the weight display as the letter is applied. It measures from zero up to 60 grams in 5 gram increments. It is 2 1/16 by 1 3/16 inches and is 1/4 inch thick.
The Italians were not going to be left out of of the small letter scale business as is evidenced by this small Pendulum scale. It appears as though all parts of this scale are made from brass.
The pointer remains in a stationary vertical position as the face revolves around it as the load is applied. The pointer is held in place by a small screw, at the end of the pointer is a round poise that appears to be held in place by some sort of rivet. It is 3 1/4 inches long and 1 1/4 inches wide. It measures in grams from 0 to 50. The first increment is 7 1/5 next is 10 and it goes up in 5 gram increments from there. Engraved on the front around the bottom is "PESA LETTERE No.
The French made this same scale for the Paris Exhibition of 1867. This Italian scale may have been made by a French manufacturer G. Hund. On the back of this scale is an advertisement that reads "BOSCA VERMOUTH SPUMANTI". A very early example of using these small scales as advertising give-aways.
Another popular antique British miniature letter scale from the late 1800s is this small tubular spring scale.
It is 2 1/4 inches long when closed and 1/4 inch wide. When opened with the letter clip extended it is 2 5/8 inches long. When not in use the blue steel letter clip is folded back into a slot and recedes into the center of the tube. The bottom part of the tubular case is then reattached by turning onto the threads on the scale. On either side
of the center slot are two measurement indicators. On the left, the weight in ounces from 0 to 4 ounces in one ounce increments and on the right the postal rates of the day; in this case 1d, 1 1/2d and 2d. These are the rates used in 1897. This scale is very nicely made with a knurled effect on the side, on each end there is an inscription a Large engraved 'E' which could be used a sealer if wax was used to seal the envelope. I would imagine that this little scale would be carried in a ladies handbag.