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Last Updated 29-05-2017

CAPACITY MEASURES


THE CAPACITY OF BRITISH LIQUID MEASURES

Taken from – Marks and Markings of Weights and Measures of The British Isles by Carl Ricketts with John Douglas.

The following is but the simplest of detail taken from this very fine book. Carl Ricketts has provided me with a ten page article which covers the subject in far more detail than the relatively straightforward tables copied and shown here. I will be pleased to email a copy of the article to any who would wish to further test their interest before attempting to obtain a copy of the book from either the author directly or from The Pewter Society.

The Collector’s Interest

Measuring capacity is not difficult although interpreting the results can be a problem. We should measure all old vessels for the eye alone cannot easily distinguish what measurement may reveal. Differences in proportions can mask both over- and under-capacity, and result in historically interesting items passing unnoticed. N.B. having an ‘unusual’ capacity does not automatically place the object earlier than c1826 as many local and customary measures continued to be used regionally during most of the 19th Century. They give interest through their mute testimony to the strength of regional and local preferences and the tenacity of both the trade and the public in continuing to use them. Thankfully from our viewpoint they frustrated Parliament’s intentions, which legislated for their removal in the 1835 Act 5 & 6 Will IV c63.

BRITISH PRE-IMPERIAL CAPACITY STANDARDS

 

in3

fl.oz

Used in England and Wales

Old English Ale Gallon (1700 Act 11 Will III c13
Winchester or Corn Gallon (1697 Act 8 & 9 Will III c22)
Old English Wine Gallon (1706 Act 5 Anne c27)

c282
c272
c231

c162
c157
c133

Used in Ireland

Irish Gallon (1495 Irish Act 10 Hen VII c22 confirmed by 1736 Act Geo II c9

c217

c125

Used in Scotland

Scots Ale Pint (18th Century Glasgow Standard)
Stirling Jug/Scots Wine Pint (defined 1618 Scots Act)

c111
c105

c64
c80

Used in Channel Islands

Jersey Pot (1/10th Cabot - 16th Century Jersey Standard)
Guernsey Gallon (2nd Report W & M Commission 1819)

c121
c252

c70
c145

ALIQUOT PARTS OF LIQUID MEASURES WITH NAMES & CAPACITIES (in fl. oz.)

 

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

ENGLISH GALLONS

Gallon

1/2 Gallon
or Bottle

3 Pints

Quart

1 1/2 Pint

Pint

3/4 Pint
or
3 Gills

1/2 Pint

1 1/2 Gill

Gill
or
Quartern

Imperial
Old English Ale
Winchester
(1641 Pottle*
Old English Wine

160.0
162.7
156.9
144.2
133.2

80
81.4
78.5
72.1
66.6

60
61

54
50

40
40.7
39.2
36
33.3

30
30.5

27
25

20
20.3
19.6
18
16.7

15
15.2

13.5
12.5

10
10.2
9.8
9
8.3

7.5
7.6

6.8
6.2

5
5.1
4.9
4.5
4.2

IRISH GALLON

125.5

62.8

 

31.4

 

15.7

 

7.8

 

3.9

‘REPUTED QUART’

106.3

53.1

 

(Bottle)
26.6

 

(1/2 Bottle)
13.3

 

6.6

 

3.3

SCOTS PINTS

 

Pint

Chopin

Mutchkin or 4 Gills

1/2 Mutchkin

Gill

Scots Ale
Scots Stirling Jug

64.3
60.6

32.1
30.3

16.1
15.1

8
7.6

4
3.8

JERSEY POT
(1/10th Cabot)

 

Pot

Quart

Pint

1/2 Pint

Noggin

69.5

34.75

17.4

8.7

4.3

* John Renold’s 1641 Pottle is an extant standard (wine) measure based on a gallon of c250 cubic inches which probably represented the continuing use of Henry VII’s wine standard. The Guernsey gallon was of equivalent capacity.

CONVERSION FACTOR: 1 FLUID OUNCE = 28.413 MILLILITRES

EXAMPLES OF MARKS INDICATING PRE-IMPERIAL CAPACITY

Old English Ale Standard

Scots Standards

Old English Wine Standard

A rare mark on a mug c1790 by William Bancks of Bewdley to show it was of Old English Ale standard capacity

4
5
I S

Scots Ale

3
I G
4

Scots Stirling

WINE

5
6
I S

Other examples of relationship marks engraved on pewter vessels:

1/40 IG 

Scots Ale Gill (4.0 fl.oz)

"1/42nd of an Imperial Gallon"

Scots Stirling Gill (3.8 fl.oz)

"One Sixth less than an Imperial Pint"

Wine Pint (16.7 fl.oz)

"Warranted Winchester Measure"

On pearlware mug (19.5 fl oz Winchester Measure) dating from last quarter of the 18th Century

 

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