Jason Clarke Antiques

Rare Late Victorian Chondrometer or Grain Scale by Bryan Corcoran Ltd London


For sale a rare late Victorian variant of the chondrometer or grain scale by Bryan Corcoran Ltd, London.

Unlike its more common predecessor which is fashioned by way of a brass stand with scale attachment and bucket, this version is thought to have been for a slightly different purpose. The former instrument would be used to determine weight per bushel from a sample of grain which already had its impurities removed whereas the latter was used to work out the pure percentage weight of a sack of grain. This was achieved by removing a sample of grain and removing its impurities, the clean grain would then be transferred to the funnel which was removed and attached to its box by means of a brass screw. The base of the funnel was then opened in order for the grain to fill the bucket and it would be weighed as normal. It is presumed that the pure content of grain within an un-purified sack could be assessed.

The scale arm of this example is divided for lbs per bushel and kilos per hectolitre and is engraved to Bryan Corcoran limited, London. It is further stamped with the numerals 71 to both the weight and the arm to confirm that they were manufactured at the same time and were meant to be paired with one another.  

Established in London in 1780, Bryan Corcoran initially appeared in trade catalogues as a millstone builder and millwright, his son joined the newly dubbed Corcoran & Son by 1805 and by 1823 their repertoire had expanded to incorporate, stationer, bookbinder, corn machine maker and warehouseman as services offered. By 1826, the company had become Bryan Corcoran & Co and the company was of such influence that Corcoran gave evidence on the petition relating to the newly conceived George IV Weights & Measures Bill which eventually brought unity of capacity measurement to the UK. The Bill is the reason for the rise in popularity of the chondrometer and its subsequent measuring standards are often replicated on the paper labels seen on period instrument boxes.

The company entered into a number of partnerships with non-family members throughout the nineteenth century, the last being with a GP Witt in 1868. With the souring of relations by 1871, Witt was successful in taking control of the business and continued to trade as Bryan Corcoran, Witt & Co. Further court disputes arose when Bryan Corcoran Junior in the same year set himself up in business as Bryan Corcoran Ltd and by virtue of failings in Witt’s court proceedings, was allowed to maintain trading and both continued to trade in competition into the next century.

Bryan Corcoran senior dies shortly after the initial dispute in 1878 and Bryan Corcoran Junior maintained the business until his eventual death in 1915.

This late Victorian example (owing to the company name) was produced during Bryan Corcoran Junior’s tenure in the newly established firm after 1871.

Circa 1880

You may also like

Recently viewed