Paul Koning paulkoning at comcast.net
Mon Feb 1 13:47:38 CST 2021

> On Feb 1, 2021, at 2:34 PM, Dave Wade G4UGM via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
>>> ...
>>> I had always been told, "A pint is a pound, the world around."
>> Aha! Does that mean a pint of water weighs 1lb?
>> Interesting. I did not know.
> Typical American statement, where "world" means "United States". Its only a pound in the USA. In the UK it’s 1.25 lbs and even in Canada, before metrication, it was 20floz same as UK.
> In many metric countries the old word for a pound, so in German for example "pfund" informally refers to 500 grams, a little more than an American pint and rather less than UK pint...
> It gets worse because I understand that in the Caribbean (which as an English man I pronounce differently to the rest of the world) you will find both size pint in use ....

That would fit tradition.  A lot of the Imperial unit names were at one time also used in the rest of Europe.  But their definition varied randomly, often from town to town.  I have a book about sailing ships that gives the dimensions in "Amsterdam feet", which by the way have 11 inches per foot, not 12.

My father, a metrologist, had a history book discussing the pre-metric systems of units of Europe.  The units were often set by the ruler of the day (e.g., the "ell" might match the arm of the prince in charge at that time).  Sometimes not, though.  The book had a lovely picture showing the way the standard "foot" was estabished in one German principality: officials gathered outside the town church in some town, stopped the first 12 adult males leaving Mass, and had them line up their feet.  They captured that measurement, divided by 12, presto, the standard foot.  For that place and time, anyway.

So don't be surprised that there are lots of pounds, ounces, etc. -- that's just how it's always been done.

Much later, there were three different inches: the UK one, the US one, and the Canadian one.  At least in theory.  In reality they were so close that it's unlikely any instrument could tell the difference.  And precision calibration was done with Johansson blocks, which followed the Canadian definition (25.4 mm exactly).


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