Heading : A Rare Diamond Moulded Richardsons Patent Half Pint Measure
Period : Victioria 1870-75
Origin : England or Scotland
Colour : Grey tone
Pontil : Polished
Glass Type : Lead
Size : Height 14.6cm. Engraved Richardsons Patent 933 1/2 Pint
Condition : Excellent
Restoration : None
Weight: 574 grams
Measures with sand blasted or cut measuring lines as a minimum became mandatory under law in the 1878 weights and measures act. Prior to this tavern measures were far from standardised
In Northern Ireland and Scotland the standard measure for spirits was 1/4 gill and a half gill was "a double". In England and Wales the standard measure was 1/5th of a gill. This difference was the result of a combination of different tax regimes and the English obsession with gin.
We have run an experiment with the measures that we do have. The variance in capacity of a quarter gill measure was the highest. These are all Scottish measures with "fill lines". None had greater than a quarter gill capacity, most were below, some by 19 percent at worst. This demonstrates that either some were poorly made or they had "best guess' fill lines added after 1878. The fact that a Scotsman would rob another Scotsman or anyone else for that matter was never beyond doubt.
It took an Englishman , one Mr William Haden Richardson whilst managing the glass works oft James Couper in Glasgow to solve the issue with measurement marks once and for all with his patent granted on 31st December 1869. The Richardson patent introduced a button that unlike measurement marks could not be polished away by dishonest landlords. The metal button was stamped by an inspector of the Board of Trade who confirmed the volume. Sadly it was not until 1963 that it became illegal to sell short measures.