From the Library of Scale Tales
  Egg Scales: Focus of a Collection

Eclipse Egg Grader

ISASC member Bob J. was using egg scales long before he started collecting them. Growing up on a farm in Chancellor, South Dakota, Bob’s parents paid him 25¢ a week to collect, clean, weigh, sort and package the eggs that the family then sold to grocery stores. “I started off just eyeballing the sizes,” he reminisced, “but as our business increased, I used a scale to be more precise. We sold the medium-size eggs and anything over or under that went on our table.”

Eager to put his egg-weighing days behind him, Bob left home without taking any scales from his childhood with him. While in college studying chemistry, he developed in interest in analytic scales. Afterwards he went on as an agriculture teacher and later as a high school counselor in Minneapolis.

For a while family and career demanded his time, but after a few years he started thinking more about his connection to scales. “When I was single, I didn’t pay much attention to collecting scales,” he remarked, “but when I married I started bugging my wife about starting a collection.”

He was in Omaha, Nebraska, for his daughter's college graduation ceremony when he and his wife went strolling through downtown. It was there he spied a Voland analytic scale in an antique shop. It seemed particularly fitting that the store was on a street named Dodge, the same as his mother’s maiden name. His wife finally relented, “Okay, I’ll buy the scale for you!”

After that first purchase, Bob quickly gravitated to collecting egg scales. “They reminded me of my childhood,” he recalled, noting the first egg scale he collected was manufactured by Minnesota-based Jiffy Way, the same brand he’d used years before on the family farm. As his egg scale collection grew, so too did his knowledge. He learned that Jiffy Way manufactured scales on behalf of other companies that would re-brand them as their own, so he started collecting the different labels. “I found these same scales with the Farm Master, Sears, David Bradley labels, and even some others, one of each in red and green – they seemed to be the popular colors for whatever reason.”

One of his rarer finds was a Jiffy Way scale stamped with the statement that it was a patented device, but it didn’t list the patent number. “So it was made in the short time between the company receiving notification that their patent was approved and actually being issued the number,” he explained.

Jiffy-Way scales in red and green

It wasn’t long before Bob realized that besides Jiffy Way other egg scales had been made in his adopted state of Minnesota. Through his research he discovered the inventor of Jiffy Way, Benjamin Zimmer, who patented the scale in 1940, was from Minneapolis only 30 blocks from his home. That’s when he really got interested in collecting other Minnesota-made egg scales.

He found the Acme Egg Grader patented in 1924 was made by the Specialty Mfg. Co. in St. Paul. The company also made hose reels and duck decoys, as well as other products, and is still in business today molding plastic products.

Although Bob continued to collect egg scales from all over, he became super focused on looking for ones made in Minnesota. Over time he was able to find quite a few in this category and today his collection includes several different versions of each of the following:

  1. Unique Egg Grader made by the Specialty Mfg. Co. of St. Paul
  2. Mascot Egg Grader made by Prospectus Mfg. Co. of Minneapolis
  3. Universal Egg Scale made by the Kahlert Mfg. Co. of Minneapolis
  4. Eclipse Egg Grader made by Eclipse Electric Mfg. Co. of Minneapolis

Rare Kahlert Mfg. Universal Egg Scale

Mystery Minnesota egg scale - manufacturer unknown

A particular favorite of his is a Minnesota egg scale that he prizes for what it doesn’t tell you. It is a flat sheet metal egg grader with a wire egg holder. Opposite the egg holder is a metal strip that acts as a fixed weight. The scale is designed to weigh eggs so that the combined weight of a dozen eggs is 23 ounces. The makers name is gone from the paper label. All it has is ___________ MANUFACTURING COMPANY. MINNEAPOLIS MINN. U.S.A. In his many years of collecting, Bob has seen only one other scale like it, and it didn’t have any label! So the actual name of the company remains a mystery, giving him another reason to keep looking for egg scales.

Although egg scales were the focal point of Bob’s collection in the early years, eventually he started acquiring other types. Initially he added grain scales, which also went back to his childhood days on the farm. In recent years he has branched out even more such that coin and letter scales are now a major part of his collection.

Another area of interest began about ten years ago when he started collecting weights. Bob now has two complete sets of English weights from 56 lbs to ¼ oz and about 70 weights with the maker’s name on them. Nowadays he gets a big charge when he is able to buy a weight or set of weights in countries he visits.

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Acquiring that first scale led Bob to want to know more. While researching scales at the library, he discovered ISASC which he joined in 1992. He immediately became an active member, attending the annual conventions and making connections with other collectors. Later he was asked to join the Board of Directors, ultimately serving as President of the organization.  He continues in an advisory role to the current board and maintains his relationships with other scale collectors around the world.

Bob credits ISASC for most of the knowledge he has about scales, but more than that, he values the people he has met, and the lifelong friendships he has made, thorough his association with the Society.

Still his primary interest his egg scale collection by itself numbers around 125 examples, an impressive tally, perhaps, “But you’re never satisfied,” reflected Bob. “I’ve slowed down some, and sold some, but if I find a nice one, I’ll still buy it.”

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