Dry measure for cereals

North west Switzerland, 18th century
Beech, iron
height I1 cm, diameter 20 cm
Inv. 1898.294.

4822px x 3850px
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The right to determine and oversee weights and measures was closely linked with sovereignty and the right to hold markets. The local lord - in free cities the council - put a 'Fechtmeister' (calibration officer), or sometimes the guilds, in charge of overseeing weights and measures. From time to time the 'Fechtmeister' would check all implements used for weighing and measuring goods against master weights and measures. By contrast to today, it used to be more common for goods such as cereals, salt, berries, etc, to be measured rather than weighed. The units used in measuring varied from one small political and economic sovereignty to another. Simple tub shaped wooden vessels with sides reinforced by iron bands were used to measure cereals, and were also calibrated by the 'Fechtmeister'. If they passed inspection they were generally marked with the coat of arms of the ruling authority and a year number indicating when they had been checked. The dry measure for cereals illustrated here displays the coat of arms of Prince Bishop Johann Conrad von Reinach-Hirtzbach of Basle who was in office from 1705 to 1737. The year 1711 burnt on to the vessel records the year of calibration; it was calibrated for a second time in 1756.

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