Lion Counterweight

Project details

  • Object number – 7270-JR
  • Material – Brass
  • Place of Origin – Nuremberg, Germany
  • Date – c. 1607-1624
  • Context – James Fort
  • Location – Study Collection
  • Category – Featured Finds

This brass lion, barely one inch tall, served a very important purpose. It is a counterweight from a weight and scale box made in Nuremberg, Germany. When the scale was not being used, it was important to keep the balance beam holding the weighing pans from unnecessary movement, which could cause wear in the areas of suspension. The lion, weighing 1.7 ounces, was tied to the end of a string that held the balance pans up or lowered them down depending on the position of the lion. The lion-shaped counterweight was used most commonly on Nuremberg pharmaceutical scales from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. Since the Jamestown Rediscovery “lion” was found in the mixed fill of the Confederate earthwork covering James Fort, it is not known when it was used at Jamestown.