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Antique Chinese Dotchin Opium-Medicine-Gold Scale Wooden Case Steelyard Balance

We purchased this antique Chinese dotchin scale from an estate sale. These small portable merchant scales have been used from ancient times in China and in the Gold Rush days of the old West by merchants and street vendors. They have been used to measure medicines and herbs, opium, and gold. This type of scale is also known as a steelyard or steelyard balance.

A steelyard is a straight-beam balance with arms of unequal length. It incorporates a counterweight which slides along the calibrated longer arm to counterbalance the load and indicate its weight. Steelyards of different sizes have been used to weigh loads ranging from ounces to tons. A small steelyard could be a foot or less in length and thus conveniently used as a portable device that merchants and traders could use to weigh small ounce-sized items of merchandise.

  • The pivoting wooden case measures 15-1/2" long x 4" wide. It is hand carved. You can see the gouge/chisel marks inside the openings. A closure appears to be missing, the place where it used to be indicated by a long indentation in the finish. The bottom section is thicker and rounded. The bottom section is thinner and flat.
  • The finish is worn from use and there is a spot on both sections at edge of fan shaped handle end where the wood is worn or chipped.
  • The tapered measuring beam (probably ebony or similar dark hardwood) has a graduated scale with inlaid silver colored metal increments. It measures 13-1/4" long. A group of silver dots grouped together at the widest end, resemble a Chinese character and appear to be a maker's mark.
  • The pan measures about 3-5/8". It too appears to be hand formed. It is only attached by 2 strings (one has broken)
  • There is a recess for the weight (an oval 1-1/2" x 1-1/4") but the weight is missing.
  • An unusual piece... a little slice of history.

Price $24.99    Shipping $8.99 -Will Ship United States Lower 48 States Only

Antique Chinese Dotchin Opium-Medicine-Gold Scale Wooden Case Steelyard Balance

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