Chinese Gold Scale

Chinese Gold Scale

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Usage conditions apply
This portable scale was made by Chen Shengtai in Guangdong Province, China, during the mid-1800s. The California gold rush prompted thousands of Chinese laborers to seek their fortune, and many brought their own weights and scales with them. This scale is a steelyard-type balance that uses a pivot point and counterweight moved along the arm on the arm to weigh the substance on the pan. It consists of a rod marked with several weight points, several pivot points to hold on to, a counterweight to move along the rod, and a pan attached to the rod with four strings. The scale could be disassembled and stored inside a small, wooden, paddle-shaped case.
Object Name
scale, gold
date made
1840 - 1860
place made
location where used
United States: California
Physical Description
fiber (overall material)
ink (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall-case: 15 in x 3 in x 1 1/4 in; 38.1 cm x 7.62 cm x 3.175 cm
overall-scale: 14 in x 1/4 in; 35.56 cm x.635 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Occupations
Cultures & Communities
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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