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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Weights and Measures Part 2

Did you know that a pound of iron weighs more than a pound of gold? However an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of iron! Let me explain;

There are three principle systems of weights in general use: avoirdupois weight (the universal standard) from the Norman "Avon du poids" or "goods of weight"; Troy weight for coinage, precious metals and jewelry (From Troyes, in France where this was first used in Europe): and apothecaries weight used by druggists and physicians.

Way back in the Middle Ages grains of wheat were used to establish a standardized system of weights. 32 grains and later 24 grains established the weight of an English silver penny also known as pennyweight (dwt. or pwt).

On the Troy standard;

24 grains = 1 pennyweight (dwt.)
20 pennyweights = 1 ounce (oz.)
12 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)
1 pound = 5760 grains
1 ounce = 480 grains

For the gem collectors out there or in case you really wondered about the size of your best friend's diamond ring - 1 carat = 3.2 troy grains.

Avoirdupois weight has both English and American variations (we aren't just two nations separated by a common language). they are basically this;


16 drams = 1 ounce (oz.)
16 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)
25 pounds = 1 quarter (qr.)
4 quarters = 1 hundredweight (cwt.)
20 hundred = 1 ton (T.)
2000 pounds = 1 ton


27 11/32 grains = 1 dram
16 drams = 1 ounce
16 ounces = 1 pound
14 pounds = 1 stone
2 stone or 28 pounds = 1 quarter
4 quarters = 1 hundredweight
20 hundred = 1 ton
2240 pounds = 1 ton

The avoirdupois pound has 7000 troy grains.
The avoirdupois ounce has 437.5 troy grains.

The apothecaries use the Troy standard except that an ounce is divided as follows;

20 grains = 1 scruple
3 scruples = 1 dram
8 drams = 1 ounce troy
12 ounces = 1 pound troy

All this information is in my copy of Household Discoveries & Mrs Curtis's Cookbook (1909) that we bought on one of our antique mall excursions. I haven't even got to the cook book section yet.
You know, this book should be added to the curriculums in public school! Hmmmm, on second thought maybe not. Some of the people in my town might take to washing their mattresses with gasoline.... (see my earlier post on this subject.)

You want to know the local pick up line?
"Nice tooth!"


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