For sale, a magnificent set of Inspectors portable County of Southampton beams scales by De Grave, Short & Fanner
The scale is constructed from a solid brass two part upright with hand lift to the base which raises the balance trays from the surface on a set of solid brass rollers. The superbly manufactured steel beam is attached by means of a pin to the head of the upright and is engraved on one side to, “County of Southampton” and “capacity 7LB, DeGrave & Co” to the reverse. The brass pans are attached to a hook on either side of the beam and each pan is further engraved with a Crown and VR with an L and an R to denote left and right.
This portable balance comes complete with its original oak case which acts as the base for the scale during use. The scale is attached to a brass shoe incorporated onto the lid and can then be packed neatly away into the fitted green baize interior. The cases retains its original catch lock and handle to the front and has two further brass plaques to the lid stating, “County of Southampton” and another with the maker’s “De Grave, Short & Fanner & Co” engraved.
The underside of the lid also retains the original trade label for De Grave, Short & Fanner & Co. It states:
“Standard Scales, Weights & Measures for Corporations.
De Grave, Short, Fanner & Co
13 Farringdon Road, Late of 59 St Martins Le Grand – Established 1670.
Manufacturers of Bullion, Assay & Chemical Balances, Scales, Weights & Measures etc.
To Her Majesty’s Standards Dept Board of Trade, Royal & Colonial Mints, General Post Office, Indian, Canadian & Egyptian Governments, Goldsmiths Hall etc.
Scales & Weighing Machines of every description with English & Foreign Weights for Exportation.”
Ideal for dating, the trade card also represents the various awards and accolades it has achieved beginning with The Great Exhibition of 1851, The International Exhibition of 1862 and the International Inventions Exhibition of 1885.
These scales would have been used during the period by county inspectors all over the country to enforce UK standards for weights and measures on traders.
The prestigious makers of this set are perhaps one of the earliest and most recognisable of all the scalemakers.
Based upon the trade label, it remains unclear how the company in the 1880’s was confidently boasting of a history dating back to 1670 but it is certain that a Charles De Grave was trading in London from 1767 until his death in 1799. The company was thereafter run by his wife Mary De Grave and she was adept enough to maintain control until 1844 as De Grave & Son, eventually being succeeded by her son Charles.
Upon Mary’s death, Charles De Grave took on a partner, Samuel Robinson Short, renewing the name to De Grave, Short & Co but this title was shortlived owing to the an additional partner William Fanner joining to form De Grave, Short & Fanner.
The company’s appearance at The 1851 Exhibition cemented the company’s reputation and the company had numerous Governmental and international commissions during the succeeding thirty years. Most available histories of the firm suggest that upon William Fanner’s death in 1871, the company reverted back to the name De Grave, Short & Co but the trade card would suggest differently. It is perhaps an assumption that does not account for William Fanner the younger’s involvement in the company. It is therefore likely that the younger Fanner maintained some interest and the name was maintained.
An entry in The London Gazette of 1889 is the more likely source for explanation whereby a partnership between a Henry Munday Clark and William Fanner (the younger) is dissolved to form the company De Grave, Short & Co. Little can be gleaned from the records as to when Clark became involved in the company but it may be assumed that upon the removal of Fanner in 1889, his name was removed and Clark continued the business under a foreshortened banner.
The company continued until 1922 after which point it was consumed by their rivals Avery.
A rare early set of these large inspector’s scales circa 1885.