Nuremberg, late 18th century
in the scales box: beam scale, 15 money weights, 9 part nest of weights and 10 counterweights; scales and weights: brass
length 20 cm, width 12 cm
After a resurgence of trade and the circulation of a wide variety of different currencies associated with it, from the C14 money balances - originally the property only of money changers - became an indispensable aid for travelling merchants. As well as checking the amount and the genuineness of what they received they needed to verify that the weight of the coins conformed to the law, using calibrated weights marked with a set nominal value by a named issuing authority. The great demand for money balances that arose from the C16 onwards was met by manufacturers working in important centres of trade. Thus in the C18 and C19, for instance, many balances were brought to Switzerland from Nuremberg. In the C19, with the improvement of minting techniques, the reduction of currencies in circulation to a small number of international standards and the emergence of paper money, balances became less important.