Cotton Weigh-up Scale

This cotton weigh-up scale was a gift of James W. Butler and came from the H. H. Hopson Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Such scales were customarily used in cotton fields to weigh each worker's daily pickings, which were the basis of pay. Because cotton is so light, only the most proficient workers could pick 300 pounds.
Cotton that was planted in April or May and chopped and cultivated through the summer would be ready for picking by September. The picking season could last into December. Once the cotton had been picked, it was taken to a gin where the seeds were separated from the lint. The baled lint went to textile mills, and the seeds were crushed to make vegetable oil and cattle feed.
Currently not on view
Place Made
United States: Mississippi, Clarksdale
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of James W. Butler
See more items in
Work and Industry: Agriculture
Data Source
National Museum of American History


what years were the Cotton Scale recognized as the official Cotton Scale
This is a generic scale and possibly scratch built. It is not an official scale. Accurate weights and measures were often contested.
What is the large "J " hook on the end of the scale bar for? Thanks.

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