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
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Work and Industry: Agriculture
Data Source
National Museum of American History