A chondrometer (pronounced chon-drom-eter) is a type of weighing instrument specifically designed for weighing samples of corn, barley, seeds etc.
This chondrometer was made by Richard Wood around 1826, and is contained in a fitted mahogany box 9"x 3½" x 2¼" with instructions for use. The unit is portable, and would have been used by people in the grain trade for buying and selling.
The market for these devices began following an 1824 Act of Parliament establishing uniformity of weights and measures. The Act should have come into force on 1 May 1825, but was delayed until 1 January 1826 to help alleviate problems in obtaining sets of the new standards. Many scale manufacturers began to produce such machines, London makers preferring this design of a steelyard with a counterpoise weight sliding over a scale calibrated to read directly in pounds weight per bushel.
The Act made no changes to the measures for mass or length, but the measures of capacity underwent considerable change. The three previously authorized measures for Ale, Wine, and Dry measures were outlawed, and the new Imperial gallon was defined as the volume of 10lb of water at 62°F, with a bushel being equal to 8 gallons (or 4 pecks). The new measure had be used for every kind of grain and other dry commodities, as well as spirits, wine, ale, beer and other liquids, throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Under this system, a gallon of water weighs 70,000 grains, or 10 Ibs (avoirdupois), leading to the old aphorism:
" A pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter ".
Use of the Chondrometer:
The brass bucket is filled with a sample of grain, which is then levelled off with a wooden ‘striker', giving an exact volume of grain. The counterpoise is slid along the scale until balance is achieved, when the weight in lb per bushel is read off.
Wheat sample from Abbey Farm, Ickleton, kindly provided by Mr. Lewis Duke.
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