The demand for nesting weights is great because of their beauty, but as there are so few genuine sets some clever-boys thought "let's make some new ones". After reading an article about reproduction nesting weights, I found that the ,best' set of my collection is false, and so I thought it would be a good idea to make known the main characteristics of repro weights as a warning to other collectors. Until the end of the l8th century, it is said, all nesting weights were made in Nuremberg. In the l6th, l7th, and l8th centuries Spain and Portugal were the main customers for Nuremberg weights, outside Germany's direct European neighbors. It is very easy to see this today. Nearly all weights for the Spanish market have, an the left side of the lid a small S and those for Portugal a small P.
HISTORY. Until the early 1960´s the price of nesting weights was not high enough to make
repro's profitable. Around 1964/65 the first tin weights appeared on the market.
They came mainly from Austria. Their defects: No adjustment marks, bad fit, weights not
equal, light alloy metal. But they were well finished and the inset cups were turned.
Mostly they were complete - as were all repro's. On the left side of the fastener you
often find a crown. The second series was the Spanish type, with elephants, which weighed
16 to 18 pounds, and had a black patina. Then followed the Portuguese type, beginning in
1969/70. There were more than 20 different models from 200g to 20kg. Their defects: Too
nice, spotted, yellow-green patina, and a lot of unarranged signs. There is another
primitive type which came from Spain, weight 500gr to 5kg. Their defects: Only three or
four cups, the set is complete, a simple untooled sand casting. The last Spanish
type is the "Technical-weight" . lt is the most dangerous type for the collector
because it shows perfect reproduction. Their defects: No copper in the alloy, only 5 or 4
COMPONENT PARTS. Genuine outer cups were composed of six pieces, but the reproductions are not. To avoid using complicated moulds some pieces were left off, so that there are mainly three pieces cup, lid, and fastener. Also, there are no tooling marks. lt is necessary to look very carefully because the smallest details, like rivets and separating lines, are cast integrally on the reproductions.
MATERIAL. Nesting weights from Nuremberg were cast in brass and other alloys containing copper. Soft metals like tin or aluminum were never used because they would wear away in use.
PATINA. On original old weights the inner cups have mostly a lighter patina than the outer cup, and the lid, on the contrary, is a little darker. The reproductions are the same color all over. Very often they have an unpleasant spotted yellow-green color when made, but it is also possible to see examples that have been cleaned. Because the repros were made in large quantities, it was necessary to have an economical way to artificiality patinate them. This was done by using acid, and so they had the same color on all parts. Sometimes the patina was nearly black.
TRACES OF ADJUSTMENT. Genuine weights normally have a bottom which is thicker than the sides. This was necessary so that material could be filed away until the proper weight was reached. So, the traces of filing may be a sign of authenticity.
ACCURACY OF FIT. An old rule of the weight casters of Nuremberg says "The inset cups shall not move or rattle if the lid is closed " The reproduction ones rattle !
VERIFICATION MARKS. Mainly, the Spanish reproductions show a lot of unarranged Roman capital letters on the lid. They were supposed to be verification marks. Often they bear dates, mostly between 1750 and 1760. Sometimes they are stamped on the inner bottom of the outer cup, together with other fancy signs. On the lid there are sometimes Roman figures about 100 years later in style than the supposed date of the set. All these letters, numbers, figures and signs show a modern type style, and that is one of their defects. The other is their arrangement. An adjuster has always been precise (it is necessary in his profession). He would have made his marks one after the other in a nice succession, and would not make such an unsightly chaos. Sometimes, the reproducers made another mistake. For economy, the false marks were stamped during the production of the lid, and not on the completed weight. As a result some parts of the signs maybe under the fastener or under other parts.
EQUAL WEIGHTS. It is very easy to prove the
authenticity of the inset cups by weighing. You need an equal-arm scale, and, if some
inner cups are missing, you will need some equivalent weights. The outer cup, complete
with its lid, is a weight and it is equal in weight to all of the inner cups. Usually, the
set has nine inset cups, but here begins the first of the difficulties with the genuine
sets - they are very seldom complete. The smallest cups are usually missing. Because
buyers prefer complete sets, the smallest ones are often replacements, and you must learn
to recognize them. There are the three rules
1. The smallest weight is solid and has the same weight as the following cup.
2. Each bigger cup is twice the weight of the next smaller cup, which fits into lt.
3. Each cup is equal in weight to all the cups which fit inside it. - not always !
1976 H . Lockner / Translated from U. Schmidt EQM 1980