Historical information

Large platform scales such as these ones made by W. & T. Avery were used for weighing goods for trading and passengers' luggage. They would be used in places such as railway stations, shipping ports, customs offices and ticketing offices. Often fees would be charged to customers according to the weight of their goods and luggage. Items would be placed onto the large horizontal platform then weights would be added to the weighing bar until the bar leveled to being horizontal. The weights would be added together and the total of the weights would be used for the final figure. These scales were made in Birmingham, England, by the British company, W and T Avery. The company had its origins in the early 1700s but only became known as W and T Avery when the brothers William and Thomas Avery inherited the scale-making business from a relative, Joseph Balden, on his death in 1813. By 1885 they had three factories and In 1895, the company acquired James Watt & Co and two years later had moved to the 25-acre Soho Foundry site in Smethwick, Birmingham where James Watt had manufactured steam engines. When the last Avery family member died in 1918, the company employed over 3,000 people and had businesses all over the world. Following the highly successful introduction of the first digital retail scale in 1971, the company was taken over by the GEC Group in 1979. The business was subsequently acquired by the American company, Weigh-Tronix, in 2000 which had already acquired a competitor, Salter. The Avery name continues today in the company known as Avery Weigh-Tronix.

Significance

An item that was used at the turn of the century as train platform scales or for weighing agricultural products. Made by a company that pioneered weighing equipment with offices all over the world. With many examples of this scale in museums throughout the world.

Physical description

Platform scales with wheels. Large cast iron, scales painted black, weight capacity to 7 CWT (hundred weight). Weight beam has markers "0. 5. 10. 15. 20. 25". Platform scale loose weight type with relieving handle; cast iron construction, fluted columns with integral weight stand, the two wheels are fitted to base at front of platform; there is a graduated steelyard 0-14bs with pear-shaped poise. Weight carrier is missing.

Inscriptions & markings

Pressed into cast iron arm on scale, one side "W. & T. AVERY", opposite side "BIRMINGHAM", and into the platform "TO WEIGH 7 CWT, W. & T. AVERY, MAKERS, LONDON & BIRMINGHAM"