The Salter scales featured, though similar to models used in the home, were designed to weigh coins. The model No. 53 was used in banks prior to 1971 to weigh ‘silver’ and ‘copper’ coins to save having to count out the coins manually. The coins would have previously been counted and placed in paper bags and the bank on issuing or receiving the coins would place the bag or bags in the copper pan on the top of the scales to check that the bag did indeed hold the specified value of coinage. The value of the coins was displayed on the dial on the front of the scales. This was possible as coins then, as now, had a known weight.
The dial of the scales indicates that they were designed to weigh up to £100 in silver or £5 in pennies. The dial shows that silver coins were weighed in units of £5 and pennies in units of five shillings. The readings for silver were on the outer edge of the dial and pennies on the inner. The accuracy of the scales was checked by using special monetary brass weights and the scales could be adjusted by using a knob.
The Salter firm started as a family business in 1760. Brothers Richard and William Salter produced springs and spring balances in a cottage in Bilston. The business moved to West Bromwich in 1770, where it remained a major employer for some 200 years. In 1825, a member of the family, George, took charge and the firm became well known as George Salter and Co.
The scales shown use a spring balance and it was in 1838 that George Salter obtained his first of many patents on weighing devices, which still apply. The dial of the scales features a trade mark registered in 1884 that shows a Staffordshire knot pierced by an arrow.
Over the years the company has produced a huge range of springs, weighing machines, ironmongery and industrial parts. In1895 they manufactured the first British typewriter. Today the brand is American owned and production has moved overseas. Modern scales now frequently employ electronics rather than springs.