Antique Weights, Scales from 19th Century Join Modernity Collection of History Museum in Bulgaria’s Ruse

Antique Weights, Scales from 19th Century Join Modernity Collection of History Museum in Bulgaria’s Ruse

One of the most interesting antiques in the scales collection of the Ruse History Museum is a volume measuring device for loose goods made in the 19th century in Plovdiv. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History

A collection of a total of 58 antique scales, weighing machines, volume-measuring machines, and 16 sets of weights, some of them from the 19th century, is undergoing a procedure for identification and cataloging at the Regional Museum of History in the Danube of Ruse in Northeast Bulgaria.

The collection in question features antique scales, weighing machines, and weights from a period spanning from the last decades of the 19th century to the first decades of the 21st century, the Ruse Regional Museum of History has announced.

They include egg scales, scales for weighing envelopes at postal stations, baby scales, grain scales, scales used in grocery stores, home scales, and a wide range of other weighing machines with diverse functions, some of which are yet to be exactly identified.

The Museum does not mention whether the collection has put together by its own employees, or has been donated by a private donor.

However, it notes that the process for the identifying and cataloging of the weights and scales includes a wide range of experts – from museum curators to tour guides.

One of the oldest items in the collection is a machine produced by a factory owned by Georgi K. Lazov in the city of Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria in the 19th century.

The antique weighing machine was designed for the precise measuring of the volume of loose goods. It won a medal at Bulgaria’s first ever expo of agricultural and industrial goods back in 1892.

Various antique scales, weights and measuring devices make up the new collection of the Ruse Museum of History. Photos: Ruse Regional Museum of History

Another very intriguing item is an antique marketplace scale made in the city of Lublin in Poland ca. 1900, which was used in the Polish military in both World War I and World War II.

“The collection of scales and weights is an important part of showcasing the processes of Modernity which come into being [in Bulgaria] in the 19th century," the Ruse Museum of History says.

Modern-day Bulgaria, also referred to as the “Third Bulgarian State" (“Third Bulgarian Tsardom" in the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century), a reference to the First and Second Bulgarian Empires from the Middle Ages, re-appeared on the global political map with its partial liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 (after the Russian – Turkish War of 1877 – 1878).

Part of the Bulgarian-populated territories at the time were liberated as the so called Principality of Bulgaria, another section was the so called Eastern Rumelia autonomous district (the two unified in Unification of 1885), while other Bulgarian-populated territories became parts of neighboring countries.

The Ruse Museum reminds that the first ruler to introduce unified standards of measurement and weights in the Bulgarian territories was Midhat Pasha, governor of Ottoman Turkey’s Danube Province in 1864 – 1868, of which Ruse was the regional capital. His standardization had the effect of facilitating trade.

In 1880, Eastern Rumelia, the short-lived Bulgarian-populated autonomous district, adopted a Weights and Measurements Act which adopted the kilogram as the main measure of weight.

In 1888, already unified with the former Eastern Rumelia, the Principality of Bulgaria adopted its own Weights and Measurements Act.

“The unit for measuring weight is the gram or the weight in airless space of one cubic centimeter of distilled water at a temperature of 4 degrees of the centigrade (Celsius) thermometer," the law said.

Experts at the Ruse Musuem are seen identigying and cataloging the new collection. Photos: Ruse Regional Museum of History

“The procedure for identification is a process of establishing the main characteristics of artifacts which are going to become cultural valuables after they are entered into the inventory books of the museum," the Ruse History Museum says.

“These actions are slow and invisible to the public but they are fundamental for the work of any museum. The collection’s display for the public is forthcoming, and will happen in better times," the Museum in the Danube city concludes with respect to its new collection of weights and scales from the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.

 

Ivan Dikov is the author of Plunder Paradise: How Brutal Treasure Hunters Are Obliterating World History and Archaeology in Post-Communist Bulgaria and 6 Million Abortions: How Communism Utilized Mass-Scale Abortion Exterminating Europe’s Fastest Growing Nation, among other books.

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