Zwei Basler Getreidehohlmasse

Two dry cereal measures from Basle

Basle, 16th/17th century
Cast bronze
larger vessel: height 20 cm, diameter 37 cm
smaller vessel: height 10 cm, diameter 27 cm
Inv. 1906.2838
Inv. 1906.2839.

4782px x 3799px
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Cereals - always referred to in Basle sources up until 1798 as 'Frucht' (fruit) - were the most important human foodstuff up until very recent times. Until the second half of the C19 cereals were not weighed, but measured, as were leguminous vegetables, berries, salt, honey, etc. Measuring was simpler than weighing which required weights and scales. In spite of local diversity in systems of weights and measures in old Switzerland the comparable dry measure units tended to be about 20 litres. The basic measure in central Switzerland was known as a 'Viertel' (quarter), but in Basle people talked of the 'Sester', which had a capacity of 17.08 l. The two bronze measuring vessels of one 'Sester' (17.08 l) and a half 'Sester' (8.54 l) almost certainly came originally from different sets. Because of their heavy weight we can assume that they were not intended for everyday commercial use. Both were probably used by the authorities as master measures to calibrate other less cumbersome dry measures; the escutcheons with the Basle crosier also suggest this.

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