From the Library of Scale Tales
  It Wasn't a Medical Necessity, but I Still Wanted One

I had already been collecting scales and weights for several years before joining ISASC in 1999. Over the years my collection has become quite eclectic, ranging from the very large to minuscule, from very clunky to the postal pretties. An engineer by nature and training, I tend to be drawn to scales on the basis of how they operate. Mostly, I buy them either to figure out how they work, or the way they work is so unusual or clever that I want them in my collection. However, there are exceptions to this. Sometimes, it is as simple as: I just like the scale.

It was at our annual convention in Chattanooga in 2008 where I saw the scale for which I'd been looking a long time. Actually, I saw three of them! Our host that year had been at this game a lot longer than I, and it was while visiting his collection that I saw my coveted hospital scale, and then another, and then another.

Hospital scales are a type of person scale and, as the name implies, were used in hospitals and other medical settings to obtain a person's weight. They are often confused with jockey scales, which again, and as the name implies, are used for weighing jockeys. But for the scale collector there are definite differences. I very much like person's scales and already had several other examples before the 2008 convention, but not specifically a hospital scale. How they work is really not a mystery, and they don't have clever or unusual mechanical operations, but I just like them.

My first thought was that anyone with three hospital scales surely wouldn't miss one, but no, he was not ready to part with any of them. He fell into that category of collectors who believe if one is good, more is great. So, putting my disappointment aside, I continued the search. Over the next few years many came up for sale, but I never could find one I considered in good enough condition and within my budget.

Six years later, in the summer of 2014, I found out the family of the above-mentioned convention host was selling the scale collection since their father had passed away the previous year. Thinking now's my chance, I contacted his daughter, only to learn that my first choice of the three scales had already been sold, as well as my second choice. The third, and the one in the poorest condition, was to be in the auction scheduled the next month.

In spite of knowing I would be getting the least desirable one, I decided to go ahead and attend the auction to bid on the third scale. With lukewarm anticipation, my wife and I drove to Chattanooga the day before and showed up bright and early the next morning ready to bid. By now I had resigned myself to the fact that, although not my first or second choice, at least I would be in possession of my long sought after hospital scale, and my excitement was starting to build as the auction began. You can imagine my frustration when late in the day the auction ran over and was cut short because of time constraints, before this scale was ever offered. The day wasn't a complete bust as I did get some other scales, but the one I had mainly come for still eluded me.

Not to be deterred, that night we had dinner with his daughter. I offered the same price I knew was the price the one that was my first choice sold for, and she turned me down. More frustration, and I was no closer to having a hospital scale in my collection. I continued the search, getting a bit discouraged since again the few that came available didn't meet my condition and/or budget criteria.

Finally the Winds of Fate turned favorably in my direction. Earlier this year we got word that the long time ISASC member who had bought the hospital scale that was my first choice had decided to consolidate his collection. As soon as I heard, I contacted him, holding my breath until I was able to confirm with him that the hospital scale was indeed among those he was going to let go. Just by pure coincidence we were in Michigan in his neck of the woods at the time, and so with a quick detour we were able to pick it up and bring it home to Virginia.

The icing on the cake was he agreed to sell it to me at the same price he bought it for years ago. Even though it didn't seem like it at the time, I am now very glad I never had the opportunity to get the one offered at the auction.

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Although it involved a lot of extra wait time and took a circuitous route halfway across country and back to get to me, it was definitely worth it, because it was by far the best of the three original ones. Needless to say, especially considering I never thought it would be mine one day, I'm a very satisfied customer!

While this type of scale was made by several manufactures, mine was made by Swansea Scale Company and measures the person's weight in stones, an old English unit of mass with 1 stone equaling 14 pounds.

As you can see, my cat and I both love it.

This Scale Tale was written by KB.