Antique and Vintage Scales: Identification and Value Guide

Antique and Vintage Scales
Antique and Vintage Scales

Are you among one those who aspire to learn and collect antique and vintage scales that were in usage decades ago but having some problem with their identification and antique scales value in the market these days?

No problem, you are at the right place to get the answers to your question.

We know very well that these days everyone has a different hobby and taste. Many people love the old stuff to make their home more classical and unique.

Among the various other old antique stuff, scales existed very long ago. Hence, they are seen with great importance among the lovers of antiquity.

But in this era where you have a replica of everything, it’s very hard to find original antique scales. The problem lies with identifying them and knowing their exact value.

If you are well aware of identifying them, their era of existence, and their value today, then you are less likely to get cheated by scammers.

A Brief History Of Antique Scales

It is no surprise to find out that the origin of the scales dates back to 2400 BC. Measuring the weight of unknown objects was always an important thing to do in doing business and other measurements.

Limitless civilizations have used old scales for weighing various items, and they evolved with time. The old scales for weighing have evolved from the Egyptian center beam to the spring scales of Englishman Richard Salter. They were used to ensure accountability, accuracy, and fairness.

Everyone used measuring scales – merchants used to weigh various items, chemists used the measurements of chemicals, jewelers used to measure the size of gold, laboratories to weigh and measure certain items, to measure the weight of newborn babies in hospitals, and the list goes on.

As we find various types of scales, it shows that there was always a need to weigh and measure things to ensure fairness. Despite the different styles and designs, the purpose of every scale was to follow the principle of balance.

The classic equal arm balance scale is the type of modern antique scale. We can hardly locate the enacted balance scales from primitive times.

The earliest was the Chinese Pocket Banjo in the 1700s, after which we have the postal scales of the 1840s, which were used to define the price of package delivery and the cost of sending a letter.

Victorian Candlestick scales
Victorian Candlestick scales

The spring balance was the product of the 18th century when the device was modified by adding a spring resistance to it. It was mainly a pantry item used by many bakers and homemakers. It then evolved and became an essential item in the kitchen.

With the industrial revolution, everything got modified and evolved. As soon as the world became digital, electronic scales took over the world in the 1940s.

You may think that this was the end of the analog scales, but no. People still have many analog scales that they use in their homes and their small businesses. However, their material and quality are not the same as that of the antique ones.

 Let us first explore some of the types of antique and vintage scales, their identification tactics, and antique scales value guide.

Types Of Antique And Vintage Scales

When we talk about antique scales, of course, there are many types of them in different parts of the world. It depends on the type of usage and the place where they are used; therefore, there is a difference among every one of them.

However, we will look into some of the basic and very common models of the antique scales that everyone follows.

Following are some of the antique scales serving unique functions.

1. Equal Arm Balance Scales

1. Equal Arm Balance Scales
Antique Primitive Brass Dual Pan & Balance Arm Hanging SCALE, No. 22552 2KG (Source: Ebay)

As the name of the scale suggests, the equal arm scale is the one consisting of the equal arm on both sides. It is a classic ‘T-shape’ model having two pans hanging on each side of the arm.

This model consisted of various designs, but the core of the scale remained the same consisting of a weighing pan on each side of the arms. Some of these were brass pans.

Working on the scale consisted of putting unknown weights on one against known weights. Different weights were available to measure the mass of the unknown objects.

Merchants used this weight to weigh the goods by putting certain goods on one of the pans and stones of known weight on the other side. This was considered the most accurate method to make the weight of the unknown things well known.

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An interesting piece of information related to this equal arm scale is that the aristocratic families of ancient times used to measure the weight of the gold by placing a prince or the princes on one side of the arm and the gold on the other side.

At the point of equal weight, the gold coins were distributed among the poor as a gesture of prolonging the life of the princesses.

2. Unequal Arm Balance Scale

2. Unequal Arm Balance Scale
Unequal-Arm Balance Source: Sciencemuseumgroup

The unequal arm balance scale is also known as the bear scale. It consisted of unequal arms, having one end longer than the other end of the scale.

These balance scales were very much similar to the steelyard scale. Or you can say that the steelyard scale comes under the category of unequal arm balance scales.

These scales were less accurate than the other scales of ancient times. They were cheaper and didn’t need any weights to measure the mass of the object placed on the other side. This scale consisted of a lightweight rod having attached mass to one end.

It worked on the principle of equilibrium, the mass to be weighed was attached to the other end of the rod and moved until the rod came into the state of equilibrium.

3. Hanging Scale

Antique Hanging Dairy Scale & Tray
Antique Hanging Dairy Scale & Tray (Source: Ebay)

The hanging balance scale is very much similar to the spring balance as it also follows the same principle. A dial much like the dial of the clock was its basics, from where a spring was hung by a hook.

This new modification was called hanging spring scales which was a hybrid of both hanging and spring scales.

When an item was meant to be weighed, it was attached to the hook, the weight of the item pulled the spring downward, the dial on the device moved, and hence the weight was then measured.

4. Balance Scale

Antique Chatillon Balance Scale
Antique Chatillon Balance Scale (Source: Ebay  $250)

A balance scale was used to balance the weight of the known and unknown items. It consisted of two pans at each end of an assay bean. This balance is still used by scientists and other professionals for laboratory and other professional measurements.

You may find many new adaptations of this device in modern times. But the antique models and the early scales are yet hard to locate and find.

5. Spring Scale

Antique Brass Chatillons Improved Spring Balance Scale
Antique Brass Chatillons Improved Spring Balance Scale (Sold $23.76)

You might have seen this kind of spring somewhere. Not too old, but still an antique accessory, especially for your kitchen.

Spring scales consisted of compressed scales that got extended when the weight was attached to the hook of the spring. A hook is attached at the end of the spring, which extends, and the weight was measured according to the scales numbered on the spring.

Dated back to the 1770s, many new adaptations of the balance have been seen. These balances were cheap, simple, and easy to measure the straightforward weight of the objects.

6. Pendulum Scales

Pendulum Scales
Pendulum Scales (Sold $115)

As the name indicates, these balance scales depend on the equilibrium of the swinging pendulum. It has a static vertical point which increases with the increase in the weight horizontally.

This scale is quite useful for counterweight measurements without springs. You will find these types of scales in the science departments of various laboratories and universities.

How to Identify Antique Scales

To identify any item from the past, you need to follow the standard principles that are applied when considering any antique perfunctory. The most important thing to consider is the material, age of the material, rarity, and the design of the item.

1. Material

Material is an important aspect when you are to identify the originality of an antique item. This is because materials are updated every year, and something being antique must have an antique material.

In the case of antique scales, you need to look closely at the material of the scale. The heavier and metallic scale is, the older it is. These days you may find light weighted and plastic materials of many weights. There are many plastic forms of equal arm scales.

In ancient times, the arm scales were made from iron, brass, gold, and silver. However, in modern times, you will not find any arm scales made from gold or silver.

Some classic equal arm scales had the support of the fine quality of the wood, such as oak or mahogany.

Modern scales are improvised in many forms; antique scales with these materials are no longer in the making.

2. Age Of The Material

Historians are very well aware of the fact that every era has used a specific material to make various things of daily usage. To know the originality of any antique scale, you should have a way to identify the age of the material.

You should know that even a century-old material would get distorted from its original form. If the material used in the antique scales is old, you need to know that after ages, the shape of the wood would change owing to the chemical change due to the wood.

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Wood is affected greatly by moisture; you need to find the trace of whether there has been any weather effect on the wood or not. If yes, then most likely, it would be desiccated from moisture.

The materials of the metals would also be affected after centuries. In the case of iron, you need to focus on the rusted part. Iron gets rusted after this much time. Therefore, it could damage the scale.

Moreover, the pans of the scales are usually made up of steel or brass, so there must be many scratches on them. No item can survive after so long in its original and composed shape. Therefore, look after the small details that will help you find the originality and antiquity of the scales.

3. Design

We all know very well that the design and style of various objects and items are improvised each year to give them a timely look. However, antique scales can be identified by their look and design from afar.

When it comes to the antique scales, you need to know that every style of it belongs to a specific era, and some may belong to specific regions as well.

As the oldest arm scales can be dated back to 2400 BC, the design of that time would differ from the design of the 17th century. Therefore, the more relic design refers to the antiquity of the scales.

4. Rarity

Remember, one thing when you look for ancient scales that is how rare they are. If you find multiple of them being sold and available, then probably the item is not rare.

Antique objects are uncommon and hard to find easily because much time has passed, and the number of items that survived until today is countable.

The rarity of the item takes you back to the material. Antique objects have antique and rare materials, the quality of which is not available today. Hence, antique scales can be identified by the rarity of the material used in their making.

Antique Balancing Scales Value

As an antique object lover, you need to know the method of valuing the scale and how much they are worth. However, remember that there is no uniformity in the prices of antique objects.

The prices of antique objects always differ due to various reasons. Some objects are priced due to their working, the material used to make them, the condition in which they are in, their originality, and the period where they belong.

Some pieces are even priced because some important item might have been used or the object belongs to that person.

However, such objects used by some famous personalities from the past are rarely seen at auction places or sites. Therefore, you cannot value them. They are more likely to become a part of the museum.

When defining the value of the antique scale, you need to have ample knowledge of the era it belongs to, its material, and its rarity and design as well. A high-quality material antique scale would be the most expensive one because the cost at their time was high.

Antique Balancing Scales Cost

If you are to pay for the cast iron scales, then they do not cost much, and you have to pay only a few dollars for them. For example, you have to pay $25 for three cast iron scales.

Antique balance scales would cost you around $350. They are the expensive ones because the antique scales are sold in the best conditions that can even be used today. The manufacturers made them with high-quality material, which makes them last longer.

The market value of hanging scales is $174. But still, the price of the antique object depends on the condition and the material used.

Spring scale does not cost much. You can find it for $6. However, it is ancient but is also used today in many parts of the world. Many copies are available at cheap rates, and people do not take them as antique scales. Hence the price is low.

As well, know that the material and the condition of the antique scale determine the price of the item. Following this, the price of silver is the highest as it manages to retain the shape and quality of the object.

Any object made of silver would cost high in any auction. For example, a gram silver weight scale is priced at $700.

Whilst valuing an antique item, fragile material usually costs more. Their survival after such a long time makes them worth more.

These items are made up of fragile materials such as aluminum, porcelain, and glass. These materials turn raw into delicate and fragile items which are pleasing to the eye and can serve as the best decorative objects for the home.

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Therefore, any such material used in the making of any scale would be far more valuable and costly than the others.

For example, a handblown glass balance is $6621, which is far higher than the other scales. The second one is the aluminum apothecary balance, which is $2547, and the last among the fragile scales is the balance scale having a porcelain top which costs around $111.

Differences In Prices

Antique and vintage objects can never have a fixed or the same price. In an auction, someone might pay much more than the original price to get the antique object. If you are an antique object lover, then you may go to any length to spend money on your desired item.

Similarly, a person who has a passion for collecting antique objects would make sure to buy an antique scale at the double the price of the normal one. Therefore, the prices may differ.

Another aspect is that the material, shape, condition, and the era when it was used also decide the price of the object. Any object made up of glass can be cheap if it’s broken. And porcelain scale would be priced high if the condition, working, and the era of its making surpassed then that of the glass.

Where Can You Find Antique Scales?

Some people may think that it is quite hard to find hard antique scales these days as there are many replicas and scammers everywhere.

All you need is to go to the authentic store and get your hands on your favorite antique scale. You may use it as a classical décor for your kitchen; you can add it also to your antique collection or make your home even more classically aesthetic and warm.

You may instigate your hunt for antique scales both at physical stores as well as online. These are good places where you can look for antique scales.

1. Thrift Shops

Thrift shops are available everywhere these days where you can buy antique stuff to give your home a unique and eye-catching look. Some stores also sell antique and vintage scales, so you can look around in your surroundings to find a good store having your desired antique scales.

2. Antique Shops

Visiting an antique shop is a must for you when you are looking for any vintage and antique items. These antique shops can be of two kinds; physical stores and online stores.

You have to find the physical stores in your surroundings, or you can ask an acquaintance about them. However, in this era, everything is usually done online, so you can find numerous stores online dealing with antique items.

3. Amazon

Yes, this biggest online marketplace is well suited for your search for antique and vintage scales. Amazon offers you a very wide range of antique and vintage scales at different prices.

It also offers some discounts on various antique scales, so you can buy them when their prices are at a discount. Go to Amazon, search for your required query and get the item in an instant.

4. Etsy

This is also an amazing online place where you can find any item of your desire. Of course, it includes your pursuit of antique and vintage scales.

Explore Etsy by inserting your query; then, you will get a vast range of the items available. The prices of these items would differ according to their material, usage, and time. So, everything will be under the touch of your fingers.

5. eBay

As an antique stuff lover, you must be very much familiar with eBay as it deals with a huge range of vintage and antique stuff, including antique scales as well.

This place is a tremendous one to satisfy your thirst for antique goods. Do your search at the site for vintage and antique scales; you will then have a list of images of different scales along with their price.

Search More To Get The Best Results

This is no doubt that the more you search about something, the more information you get. Scams are in abundance, so be aware of any fraud and find the right place to get antique scales.

You will save yourself from all the worries and be free from scams. If you are well aware of the material of antique scales, their designs, and their age, then you will spot a fake scale at a glance.

In case of any query, feel free to reach out to us any time through emails or comments. You are always welcome to express your ideas and thoughts. We look forward to serving you.

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