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Height/weight machine, London, England, 1850-1855

Augustus Siebe (1788–1872) invented this height/weight machine – the first one to use dials to register weight. The machine was used by the War Office to assess recruits for the British Army during the Crimean War (1854-1856). To measure the height of recruits the wooden disc was raised to the crown of the head. As the bar is raised the height is registered on the dial (ranging from 4 ft to 7 ft) at the top. Height and weight were taken as part of a medical examination and the results from the prospective recruits for the Crimean War revealed the shocking levels of poor health and inadequate physical development of many British citizens. Minimum height requirements were introduced in the 1860s but varied from year to year. A minimum weight also became a requirement. In 1884, for example, this was 115 lb (52 kg).

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Glossary: weighing machine

A machine (sometimes referred to as a scale) for weighing persons, objects or large weights.

Glossary: measurement

Measurement is the process of estimating the magnitude of some attribute of an object, such as its length or weight, relative to some standard (unit of measurement), such as a meter or a kilogram. The act of measuring usually involves using a measuring instrument, such as a ruler, weighing scale, thermometer or speedometer which is calibrated to compare the measured attribute to a measurement unit. Metrology is the scientific study of measurement.