Highlights: Washington, May 2023



Members met May 4th through May 7th in Tysons Corner in the Washington, DC, area for our 43rd convention. What we lacked in attendance numbers we made up for in enthusiasm and excitement to be together again. For many of us, it is the only time of the year we can be with others who share this interesting, some say strange, hobby of ours.

The convention got off to a delicious start on Thursday with an informal dinner at the nearby Maggiano's Little Italy. Served family style in our own private dining room, it was a relaxing evening giving plenty of time to catch up with fellow members and meet those attending for the first time.

Friday was a full day of scale viewing. Our first stop was at the home of Kurt and Ann B. Many of us remember seeing Kurt's collection at the 2005 convention. Well, to say that Kurt has been very busy adding to his collection since then is a huge understatement to say the least.

Kurt has the luxury of having a full basement for display as well as what Ann permits upstairs in the main living area. This allows Kurt to have what seems like an unlimited number of scales. And, his scales cover the entire spectrum of types. Then you start on his weights, which are uncountable. Needless to say, we were all like children in the candy store. One person said viewing Kurt's collection made him want to go home and throw out his own because he could never achieve anything close to what he was seeing.

Kurt had a well-balanced mixture of both the "pretties" and the "clunkers". He had several arrangements of type of scales that really showed them off. Prominent was a large acrylic display case with lid for money scales. Additionally, there was a table devoted to very ornate postal scales that attracted a lot of interest.

We next took a break from scale viewing with lunch at the Bear Chase Brewing Company. Self-proclaimed as a "destination-style farm brewery" this picturesque 35 acre estate is nestled on a densely wooded mountain ridge in Northern Virginia and offers a sweeping vista of the surrounding countryside. After going through the buffet line with its tasty choices, almost everyone chose to sit outside at the picnic tables enjoying the abundant sunshine. It was a leisurely lunch so many opted to do a bit of exploring to soak in the bucolic ambience.

Then it was time to get back on the bus and gear up for more scale viewing. It was only a short drive before we reached the home of member Jeffrey S. He collects mostly coin-op scales. By his last count he has over 450 scales, but after seeing his collection some of us questioned if this number was up to date. Also of notable interest was his collection of signs that were on the walls everywhere you looked. Several that were spotted advertised scale companies most of us had not heard of. Jeffery had some non-scale items which captured attention as well. One particular was an antique child's barber chair with a wooden horse head attached designed to entertain a small child while getting a haircut. You never know what you will find in the midst of a large scale collection!

There was a full schedule for the Saturday morning presentations. First up was Gene M. showing some of his favorites from his collection of Byzantine coins and weights. Carol and Bob H. presented "Scales and Good Times" which is a slideshow they have been adding to since 2003. It shows a copious amount of scales and weights with photos from past conventions scattered throughout.

Steve G. presented two programs he had previously given at ISASC Zoom meetings. The first showed the highly prized miniature brass coin steelyard scale by inventor John Joseph Merlin. It turns out that the same guy also invented rollerblades. Who knew? In his second presentation, Steve discussed the English coin balance by Anscheutz & Co. Since each of these scales were numbered individually dating back to the patent date of 1772 it is easy to determine which of these scales is the oldest.

Last up was Greg M. showing many artistic representations of the "Scales of Justice." He explained why "fairness" and "justice" are not the same thing. We also learned why the US missed out on adopting the metric system despite Thomas Jefferson's best efforts when he was Secretary of State.

Saturday afternoon was reserved for the Silent Auction and Let's Make a Deal. A sizable quantity as well as a wide variety of items went on the auction block. People had plenty of time to weigh their decision on what they wanted to go for. Then the bidding began in earnest. By the end of the afternoon most everyone had added to their collection, some in a small measure and some in a larger measure. It is always satisfying to see both longer term and newer members finding treasures at this yearly auction.

The day concluded with the gala reception and banquet. This was when we took the time to recognize out-going President Fred R. for his exceptional service to ISASC. Emcee Greg H. presented Fred with a commemorative gift of a set of unusual weights. After thanking everyone for the gift and their support, he started to return to his table, but Greg had another plan in mind. He told Fred to sit in a chair facing the audience so we could "roast" him.

After sharing some of his own thoughts, Greg asked fellow board members Carol H., Mary Anne M., Allan R. and Ernie S. to come up and add their commentary to the good-natured "roast." It was a fun evening with lots of laughs at Fred's expense, but being a good sport he took it all in stride.

Sunday morning kicked off with Show and Tell allowing members to share with their fellow Scalies. Greg P. presented a coin scale in a wood box from Jonathan Dakin who was a Colonial Boston scale maker. The label on the inside of the cover had a very well-preserved chart for coin weights and exchange rates for many different coins in use at that time. Greg M. showed four examples of inspector's weights and measures from British colonies.

Don L. shared interesting weights he had acquired on his travels often buying from dealers who didn't understand what they had. Greg H. introduced a few examples of Chinese laundry scales. Such scales were an important part of an entire industry when the cost of laundry service was determined by weight.

Kurt B. had a photo of a page from the 1897 Avery Catalog displaying a set of very unusual shaped standards for liquid measures used by weights and measures inspectors. His set of these type is marked Doyle & Son London, City of Aberdeen, 1894. The set includes the 8, 4, 2, 1 and ½ gallon and the 1 quart. Since it was not practicable to bring the entire set, he only brought the smallest. Fred R. held up his bell weights with hooks on the top. He is unsure exactly what these weights were used for and there was some question as to whether the hooks were part of the original weight or added later.

The business meeting took up the rest of the morning and the convention concluded with the farewell luncheon. Goodbyes were exchanged with promises to see everyone at next year's gathering.

The 2024 convention will be held May 2nd through May 6th in Walnut Creek, California. Another terrific meeting is being planned. Long time convention goers know the camaraderie prevalent at our conventions is something that only increases the joy of collecting. Come find out for yourself! President Allan R., along with all the board members, extends a personal invitation to join them. So mark your calendar and make plans to load up your wagon and head to Californ-I-Yay next May. See ya there.