Tucked away in a small town directly south of Boston, Hamilton Specialties Inc. of Randolph, Massachusetts was the base for a company that specialized in small office and home use postal scales. This company made a number of different models but one of the most commonly found is the Hamilton No 16.
The model 16 is a pendulum-type scale that uses a set weight as a counterbalance to the item being weighed. Simply place your mail on the weighing platform and the dial indicator will give you the weight in ounces up to one pound.
As the surface the scale was placed on could affect the accuracy of any measurements, there is an adjusting screw (see diagram) that will allow you to zero the scale. Once properly adjusted the scale is quite accurate and works well as a first class letter postal scale.
The No 16 is a smaller scale measuring 5.5 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches in height. It weighs 9.6 ounces and is made from pressed steel and aluminum. The label on the front is made from “vinylite” and was made to be replaceable so that when postal rates changed you could easily update it.
As noted, this scale is fine for weighing envelopes and small flats, but it was not designed with packages in mind, even small ones. You could certainly use this to weigh small, light items but if you regularly sent out packages of any size you’d want to purchase a more robust scale for your needs.
The Hamilton No 16 was advertised in the U.S. from 1953 to 1963 but might have been available for a longer time. With a simple and elegant design coupled with quality materials it’s not unusual to find this scale out in the wild and in good shape. This can also be considered a “working antique” in that you can pick this up at a vintage store, clean it a bit, adjust it, then place it on your desk and start using it for its intended purpose. Just make sure to look up current postal rates…
- Goldsmith Bros. Stationery Catalogue (1953), New York, NY, page 89
- McCloy’s, (1958, March 17), advertisement. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, page 5
- PK Smith and Company, (1958, February), advertisement. Petersburg Independent
- Dieckhaus Stationers, (1962, March 27), advertisement. The Philadelphia Inquirer, page 5
- WOSCO Inc Catalog, (1963), Greensburg, PA, page 248
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