Friday, May 18, 2007

A set of portable jockey scales by W&T Avery ( 1870 )

A set of portable jockey scales by W&T Avery ( 1870 )

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Dealer: Ronald Phillips Ltd


Dimensions: 213.50cm wide 259.00cm high 104.00cm deep (84.06 inches wide 101.97 inches high 40.94 inches deep)


Description / Expertise: An impressive set of late 19th century brass jockey scales, the central four- legged ‘A’ frame with a central arm suspending a faded green leather upholstered oak seat counter balanced by a suspended platform for weights, together with the complete set of iron weights. Stamped ‘W&T Avery, Birmingham’.

The firm of W & T Avery has a long and illustrious history associated with Birmingham and the Industrial Revolution. The firm was founded by the partnership of two brothers, William and Thomas Avery, in 1813 specialising in the manufacture of weighing scales and machines, a vital instrument in Britain’s explosive rise in domestic and international commercial dominance in the 19th century. The firm soon established themselves as market leaders and in 1895 bought James Watt & Co occupying the legendary site of the famous Soho Foundry, founded by Matthew Boulton (1728 - 1809) and James Watt (1736 - 1819), where the famous purpose built steam engines were made. The range of their machines ranged from high precision weighing scales for medical purposes to this huge example suitable for weighing jockeys to calculate their horse’s handicap before a race. From the late 19th century the firm was described as the finest weighing machine factory of the world and continued to diversify and prosper under the able managing director William Hipkins who was to perish aboard the Titanic in 1912. The firm continues at its original site and, now under the American ownership of Weigh Tronic, still ranks as a world leader in its field. Avery made other jockey scales but these are the most elaborate as well as being portable so they could be taken from racecourse to racecourse. They are accompanied by the original set of weights ranging from 8oz to 56lbs. The accuracy of these scales is extraordinary and is emphasised by the small hanging receptacle positioned above the weights that would finally be filled with buckshot to measure his precise weight to the last fraction of an ounce. We are grateful to Mr John Doran, museum curator of Avery Weight-Tronix, for the additional information in cataloguing this piece and to Mr Frankie Dettori for kindly testing it for us!