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Trash or Treasure: Nothing “fishy” about scale value

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News
Cindy Sloan of Shelby Township shows off an old balance scale during the Trash or Treasure appraisal event.

It would definitely be difficult to fit into a suitcase. That was one of the first things I thought after seeing the item that Cindy Sloan recently brought in for appraisal to the Michigan Design Center in Troy, where expert Brian Thomczek took a closer look in an attempt to give her a value.

“We bought it in Amsterdam in 1984,” Sloan said of the piece, a large metal scale that occupied most of the table at the recent event. “We bought it at a market for $200.”

The intriguing piece is marked “Librasco” on the back and includes a small and complete weight set, “which makes a huge difference to collectors of items like these,” Thomczek pointed out. Internet sleuthing revealed other Librasco scales for sale online but little definitive information on the company and its history other than the fact that some traced it to England, others to Portugal.

Sloan said she thought it was a fish scale; Thomczek said that could be true or it could have some sort of scientific use. “Either way, it’s a little dusty and could use a good cleaning,” he told her.

He identified the materials as brass, adding that it’s “definitely an antique” and that he would place it to sometime in the late 19th century.

Cindy displays the unusual piece in her living room, where it makes an interesting conversation piece, she says.

It’s also a conversation piece that would bring good money if the couple were to sell it, the appraiser said. “Scientifica is a hot market right now.” For that reason, he valued it at $800 to $1,200, a number that brought a round of claps from the audience at the recent event.

“You wouldn’t have trouble selling it,” he told the Sloans. “It’s functional art.”

“We like to bring back unusual things from our travels,” Cindy explained. “We brought this back in our carry-on … it was interesting trying to explain what it was.”

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to trashortreas@aol.com. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.             

About this item

Item: 19th century scale

Owned by: Cindy and Glenn Sloan

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek

Estimated value: $800 to $1,200 at auction