Research at the California Academy of Sciences

The Rietz Collection of Food Technology

at the California Academy of Sciences

English & French Measures
Dating from 18th and 19th century France and England, several examples of sets of measures were collected by Rietz. Following the needs of trade and commerce that erupted from the expansion of markets in the 16th to 19th centuries in Western Europe, reliable weights and measures were crucial to the accounting of foods and liquids as commodities. The measures present in the Rietz Collection would have been used to verify a particular amount of liquid volume.
The measuring of both dry weight and liquid volume soon became a matter regulated by the government, in order to avoid theft and inaccuracy. Stamped with official governmental markings of France and England, the vessels in the Collection are cast of pewter and other metals and represent the measuring system of the country from which they originated.  
French measures
French Measures
Left to right: CAS 0389-1272, 0389-1271, 0389-1205
0389-1200, 0389-1204, 0389-1260, 0389-1259

CAS Photo/Dong Lin
English measures
English Measures
Left to right: CAS 0389-1190, 0389-1178
0389-1443, 0389-1192, 0389-1177

CAS Photo/Dong Lin
  The measures are not graduated but are sets of containers of fixed value. The French measures employ the metric scale, each container inscribed with its value: "Litre," "Demi-litre," "Deca-litre," etc. The English measures, including some examples made of wood, employ the traditional English measuring scale, and are inscribed with values such as "quart," "pint," "half-pint," and "dram."
The measures in the Collection were most likely used as tools of commerce, to measure commodities such as milk and cream sold in public markets. Although they resemble modern household measuring cups, these objects predate the common use of household recipes and cookbooks that employ fixed, measured amounts of ingredients. However, it is likely that these tools are an antecedent to household measuring devices.

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Mediterranean Ware
Persian Ware
N. American Ware
Hearth Tools
Measuring Tools
Professional Ware
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