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Hand balance with a 6.5-inch steel beam, index, two shallow brass pans, four square brass weights, and a rectangular wooden case. A paper inside the lid is marked: “Money SCALES and WEIGHTS, of all KINDS, sold by WILLIAM POYNTELL, IN PHILADELPHIA” and “All GOLD of equal fineness, with the Coins here mentioned, is taken at the Bank of North-America, at 6/8 of a Penny Weight.” This paper also has a conversion chart for various European coins (English Guineas, French ditto, Moidores, Johannes’s, Half ditto, French milled Pistoles, Spanish ditto, Doubloons, English Crowns, French ditto, Spanish Dollars, and English Six pence) giving the value of each in pounds, shillings and pence in England, in Philadelphia, and in New York; it also gives the true weight of each.
William Poyntell (1756-1811) was an English merchant who settled in Philadelphia at an early age. He established a printing office in 1803, for the purpose of printing Greek and Roman classics. And he was a director of several public institutions.
This balance apparently belonged to Joseph McClellan (1747-1834), an Army officer who served in the American Revolutionary War.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Hand Balance
Object Type
Date made
ca. 1794
date made
late eighteenth century
Associated Place
United States: New Jersey
box: 3 cm x 9.6 cm x 20.5 cm; 1 3/16 in x 3 3/4 in x 8 1/16 in
each pan: 55 mm; x 2 3/16 in
balance weight:;
overall in case: 1 1/4 in x 8 in x 3 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 20.32 cm x 9.525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry C. J. Evans
Weights & Measures
American Revolution
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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