Historical Weight and Mass

Chapter

Abstract

Weight was an historical, base measurement unit representing the apparent “heaviness” of a physical object under the influence of gravity. The concept of mass developed somewhat later. For practical, daily applications in a terrestrial frame of reference, weight can be converted to mass with small error. Weight is normally what is measured by available devices, such as balances and weighing scales. The “operational weight” measured this way is close to the actual weight, for normal purposes. Weight standards have evolved from rough standards based on rocks, through standards based on the weights of various grains, to a standard based on the International Prototype Kilogram of mass. This is the only base unit of measurement that still uses a physical artifact as the international standard. The methods of measurement for weight and mass are discussed in this chapter, along with their sources and typical magnitudes of errors. There is an extensive listing of conversion factors for historical units to modern volume units provided for various locales and eras in world history.

References

  1. 1.
    Clarke FW (1891) Weights, measures, and money, of all nations. D. Appleton & Company, London. Reprinted by The University of California Libraries, 7/14/2015Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cardarelli F (2003) Encyclopaedia of scientific units, weights and measures: their si equivalents and origins [Shields MJ, Trans]. Springer-Verlag, London Limited, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    American Petroleum Institute (1974) Manual of Petroleum Measurement Standards, Chapter 15, Section 2, Conversion of Operational and Process Measurement Units to the Metric (SI) System. API Publication 2564, March 1974Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weast RC, ed, et al (1968) Handbook of chemistry and physics, 49th ed. The Chemical Rubber Company, Cleveland, OH, USAGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Peters MS, Consulting editor, et al (1963) Perry’s chemical engineers’ handbook 4th ed. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    USDA, Weights, Measures, and Conversion Factors for Agricultural Commodities and Their Products, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Agricultural Handbook Number 697, June 1992Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    History of measurement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_measurement. Accessed 31 May 2015
  8. 8.
    History of Measurement. http://historyworld.net/. Accessed 30 Jun 2015
  9. 9.
    Individual measurement unit articles for regions of the world (listed below), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/. Accessed at various times from 5/31/2015 through 10/19/2015. a. “Afghan units of measurement” b. “Algerian units of measurement” c. “Ancient Arabic units of measurement” d. “Argentine untis of measurement” e. “Biblical and Talmudic units of measurement” f. “Brazilian units of measurement” g. “Byzantine units of measurement” h. “Cambodian units of measurement” i. “Metrication in Canada” j. “Chilean units of measurement k. “Chinese units of measurement” l. “Colombian units of measurement” m. “Old Cornish units of measurement” n. “Costa Rican units of measurement” o. “Cuban units of measurement” p. “Cypriot units of measurement” q. “Czech units of measurement” r. “Danish units of measurement” s. “Dutch units of measurement” t. “Egyptian units of measurement” u. “Ancient Egyptian units of measurement” v. “Winchester measure units of measurement” w. “Imperial units” x. “Canadian units” y. “English units” z. “Eritrean units of measurement” aa. “Estonian units of measurement” bb. “Ethiopian units of measurement” cc. “Finnish obsolete units of measurement” dd. “Units of measurement in France before the French Revolution” ee. “Units of measurement in France” ff. “German obsolete units of measurement” gg. “Ancient Greek units of measurement” hh. “Greek units of measurement” ii. “Guinean units of measurement” jj. “Haitian units of measurement” kk. “Honduran units of measurement” ll. “Hungarian units of measurement” mm. “Hong Kong units of measurement” nn. “Icelanic units of measurement” oo. “Inca Empire” pp. “Hindu units of time” qq. “Indian weights and measures” rr. “History of measurement systems in India” ss. “Indonesian units of measurement” tt. “Old Irish units of measurement” uu. “Italian units of measurement” vv. “Japanese units of measurement” ww. “Latvian units of measurement” xx. “Libyan units of measurement” yy. “Luxembourgian units of measurement” zz. “Maltese units of measurement” aaa. “Malagasy units of measurement” bbb. “Mauritian units of measurement” ccc. “Ancient Mesopotamian units of measurement” ddd. “Mexican units of measurement” eee. “Moroccan units of measurement” fff. “Nicaraguan units of measurement” ggg. “Norwegian units of measurement” hhh. “Omani units of measurement” iii. “Ottoman units of measurement” jjj. “Paraguayan units of measurement” kkk. “Persian units of measurement” lll. “Peruvian units of measurement” mmm. “Philippine units of measurement” nnn. “Obsolete Polish units of measurement” ooo. “Portuguese customary units” ppp. “Puerto Rican units of measurement” qqq. “Ancient Roman units of measurement” rrr. “Obsolete Russian units of measurement” sss. “Scottish units” ttt. “Serbian units of measurement” uuu. “Seychellois units of measurement” vvv. “Singaporean units of measurement” www. “Slovak units of measurement” xxx. “Somalian units of measurement” yyy. “South African units of measurement” zzz. “Spanish customary units” aaaa. “Sri Lankan units of measurement” bbbb. “Swedish units of measurement” cccc. “Swiss units of measurement” dddd. “Syrian units of measurement” eeee. “Taiwanese units of measurement” ffff. “Tanzanian units of measurement” gggg. “Obsolete Tatar units of measurement” hhhh. “Thai units of measurement” iiii. “Tunisian units of measurement” jjjj. “Uruguayan units of measurement” kkkk. “Venezuelan units of measurement” llll. “Vietnamese units of measurement” mmmm. “Welsh units”
  10. 10.
    United States customary units. https://en.wikpedia.org. Accessed 30 Jun 2015
  11. 11.
    Pound (force). https://en.wkipedia.org/wiki/Pound_(force), accessed 11/8/2016
  12. 12.
    Metric system. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_system. Accessed 13 Jun 2015
  13. 13.
    Grain Market Conversion Factors. https://www.hagertygrain.com/weights_and_me.htm. Accessed 29 Jul 2015
  14. 14.
    Katz DA (2015) Scientific measurements. http://www.chymist.com/Measurement.pdf. Accessed Jun 2015
  15. 15.
    Weights and Measurements in California’s Mission Period. http://californiamissionsfoundation.org/articles/weightsandmeasuresmissionperiod/. Accessed 24 Jun 2015
  16. 16.
    Barta J et al (2001) The mathematical ecology of the shoshoni and implications for elementary mathematics education and the young learner. J Am Indian Educ 40(2):1–27Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Weight. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weight. Accessed 11 Jun 2016
  18. 18.
    Aristotelian physics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotelian_physics. Accessed 16 Jun 2016
  19. 19.
    Weighing scale. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weighing_scale. Accessed 12 Jun 2016
  20. 20.
    Mass. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass. Accessed 31 May 2015
  21. 21.
    Abucco. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abucco. Accessed 13 Jun 2015
  22. 22.
    The history of measurement. http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/HistTopics/Measurement.html. Accessed 9 May 2016
  23. 23.
  24. 24.
    Rolfe R (2015) Graphic: biblical units and measurements. Logos Bible Software. Accessed 6 Jul 2015Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Figdor R (2010) Biblical and talmudic units of measurement. ronnie@figdor.com.au. Accessed 13 Jun 2015Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Weights and Measures. Oxford biblical studies online. http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/resource/WeightsAndMeasures.xhtml. Accessed 28 Jun 2015
  27. 27.
    Measurement Units of Ancient China. Cultural China, http://history.cultural-china.com/en/56History2758.html. Accessed 6 Jul 2015
  28. 28.
    Weights and Measures in East Asian Studies. State University of New York at Albany. http://www.albany.edu/eas/205/weights%20and%20measures.pdf. Accessed 1 Jul 2015
  29. 29.
    The Weights and Measures of Ancient Egypt. Tour Egypt, 1996–2013. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/measures.htm. Accessed 11 Jun 2015
  30. 30.
    English Customary Weights and Measures. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. https://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/custom.html. Accessed 30 Jun 2015
  31. 31.
    Traditional English Units. http://all-about-units.com/en/articles/traditional-english-units. Accessed 24 Jun 2015
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
    Graphic: Table of the Jewish Weights, Measures, &c. and Particularly those Mentioned in Josephus’ Work. http://www.preteristarchive.com/ARTchive/Charts/Literature/weights-measures.jpg. Accessed 6 Jun 2015
  34. 34.
    du Sautoy, Marcus, video series: “The Science of Measurement”, viewed in 8/2015 on Acorn TVGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gig HarborUSA

Personalised recommendations