From the Library of Scale Tales
 The Getreideprüfer Inspires a Collection

The Getreideprüfer Inspires a Collection

This is how my visit to an antique store in Austria helped build the “fever.”

I had been introduced to scale collecting through my father’s extensive collection, and he had asked me to keep my eyes open for scales after I moved to France for my job. In addition to making several “finds” for him, I also began my own fledgling collection.

While on a visit to Vienna in the 1980s for a meeting organized by the United Nations on the use of space and satellites, I went to a chic-looking antique store. It was there that I spotted the Prof. Bauers Getreideprüfer scale on the floor among some very impressive items of furniture. Immediately I knew it was going to be a valued acquisition.

The shop owner had no relevant knowledge about the scale, but it was clearly something different than what I was familiar with. I subsequently determined that it served as an easily-portable device for inspectors to check grain samples through both weight and density measurements.

At the antique store, my French wife used her fluency in German to negotiate the purchase. It was only later, as I increased my knowledge of scales and their value, did I realize what a very reasonable price I paid.

The scale’s metallic base is marked: Prof. Bauers Getreideprüfer (“getreideprüfer” is “grain inspector” in German), and has a threaded hole for a tall brass rod that supports the equal arm scale. The rod also incorporates clips that hold a glass density tube.

A weight of 150 grams is sized to fit in a pan suspended from the scale’s left arm, while a brass grain hopper hangs from the right arm. The hopper is designed with a funnel-shaped bottom with a stem which has a stopper so that it can be filled.

After filling the hopper with a sufficient amount of grain to counterbalance the 150 gram weight, the hopper is removed from its hanger and the stem fitted into the glass density tube. By pulling up the stopper the contents can be emptied into the glass tube. The tube is marked in graduations from 120 to 220. (Click on the image below, at left, for a more detailed view from above.)

Illustrierte Zeitung

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I have not found much additional information about the getreideprüfer or Professor Bauers, but an internet search located a mention of this device in the 1890 German-language publication Illustrierte Zeitung. Unfortunately, the online scanned quality of this publication’s page is very poor, and the brief description below a drawing of the scale is not legible. (Click on image above, at right, for larger view.)

After bringing the scale home from Austria – which included taking extreme care as not to break the glass density tube while flying back to Paris – the getreideprüfer became a centerpiece of my growing collection. Its competition was an ornate paper-weighing scale that we bought at the same store in Vienna … but that’s a story for another day and another Scale Tale!

This Scale Tale was written by Jeff L.