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A Century-Old Letter Scale Comes to Life







Liberty Bell Letter Scale
The annual ISASC convention provides an opportunity to share the passion for collecting weighing instruments … and the past few years' meetings also have included a custom-made scale provided as a special souvenir.

For the 2017 gathering in Philadelphia in May, the souvenir was particularly appropriate: a reproduction inspired by a century-old patent for a letter scale in the form of this city's famous Liberty Bell – an iconic symbol of American independence.

Member Greg H. created the replica using information from the original patent application. Filed in September 1899 by William Waegel for "a certain new and useful Improvement in Advertising-Scales," the patent No. 658,603 was issued the next year, on September 25, 1900, by the United States Patent Office.

The patent's wording described the scale as an "exceedingly neat, simple, cheap, and effective device" that is tailored for advertising purposes.

Liberty Bell Letter Scale

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Based on drawings and the inventor's guidance as outlined in the patent, Greg had the scale's bell-shaped face, along with the combined disk/pointer bar, cut from sheet metal at a specialized shop. This was followed by sending it to a trophy shop to have the scale's name and 2017 ISASC convention information etched on the face, along with the weight graduations from 0 to 4 ounces.

Through a trial-and-error process, Greg determined the correct placement to drill the hole that serves as the fulcrum. He used bailing wire to create the rod with clip that holds the letter to be weighed. In a family effort, his wife located the pins that serve as the pivot point for the weighing device, enabling the 2017 adaptation of The Liberty Bell Letter Scale to be assembled as a limited edition in Greg's own home workshop.

While it is unknown whether the scale was ever manufactured by its original inventor, a follow-on for The Liberty Bell Letter Scale was brought to reality by an ISASC member's dedication … nearly 117 years after the patent was issued.

Click here to download the Advertising-Scale Patent as a PDF file.

This Scale Tale was written by Jeff L., based on the presentation by Greg H. during the 39th ISASC Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.