Ordinance regulating the public weigh house and scales

Scanned Document:

Done at the session in the presence of the director-general and all the councilors, 10 August 1654, Amsterdam in New Netherland.

Provisional orders and regulations regarding the weighhouse of this city of New Amsterdam:

The director-general and council of New Netherland to all those who see this or hear this read, greetings. Let it be known that they, in order to prevent the complaints of some malevolent people that no regulations are observed in this country with regard to weights and measures, have therefore had made and constructed, at the direction and expense of the honorable directors at the chamber of Amsterdam, lords and patroons of this province, a proper weighhouse; and, in addition to the standardized weights, they have located therein a standardized skipple and ell in accordance with the weight, volume and length used by the city of Amsterdam, according to which all other weights, measures and ells shall be regulated, observed and employed within this province, on the penalty and fine previously established. In order better to implement the same, the director-general and council have ordained and enacted, as they do hereby ordain and enact, that all goods and merchandise subject to the measure of the skipple or weight, from this time forward, which are brought in or taken out of this city, shall be weighed and measured by the sworn and appointed master of weights and measures before such merchandises or goods are brought into this city or taken out of it and exported elsewhere, for which the buyers and suppliers jointly or the buyers and suppliers separately, according to the conditions of the sale, shall pay weighing or measuring fees as follows:

First concerning the Weighhouse

For all sorts of silk goods  15 stivers per hundred 
florets, cochineal or saffron .. 
For indigo   10 stivers per hundred 
all sorts of spices 
Spanish leather 
For tobacco  5 stivers per hundred 
elephants' teeth 
all sorts of dyewoods 
cotton and cotton yarns 
wool and woolen yarns  
dried hides 
copper kettles 
For dried fish  4 stivers per hundred 
salted meat 

And for all odd weights, above and below one hundred pounds, shall be paid: from one to 25 pounds, one fourth part; from 26 lbs. to 50 lbs. inclusive, half fees; from 51 to 75 lbs., \ of the hundred; and above 75 lbs. to one hundred, full weight fee. However, if a man delivers at the same time and to the same person more than one amount of the same sort of goods, all the aforesaid amounts or weights of the one and other shall be added together, and payment made therefore according to the product of the whole; and for each amount or measure weighed shall he be paid of one stiver. And all the goods subject to the weighhouse, or those sold by weight, shall pay the weighing fee as often as they are sold, transported, transshipped or exported. However, in order to avoid the heavy charges for labor to which the goods may be subjected in transporting them to and from the weighhouse, whether by cart, sleigh or boat, the delivery may be made from ship to ship or from house to house by the shortest and quickest route; provided that before the shipment or transfer takes places, the weighmaster be notified thereof and the weighing fee be paid, on pain of forfeiting the goods and merchandise or the just value thereof, or otherwise at the discretion of the honorable director-general and high council. Also, any goods and merchandise sold by the lot or parcel shall not be delivered before and until they are weighed; however, the contracting parties shall be allowed to send for the weighmaster, scales and weights, in loco, and have the goods and merchandise weighed there and then delivered, upon payment to the weighmaster of four guilders per day and the like sum for the use of the scales and weights, but if the buyer or seller has his own scales or weights, it will suffice to pay only the weighmaster. Provisionally and for the first year, more or less, until the director-general and council have an opportunity to farm out the weighhouse, agreeable to the praiseworthy custom of the city of Amsterdam, the proceeds of the weighhouse or the weighing fees shall be turned into and paid in current money at the General Treasury; the duties of weighmaster shall be provisionally performed by left blank  ] . The goods and merchandise which are brought to, or are received at the weighhouse, and belong to the honorable Company, this city, the deaconry and other charitable institutions, being really and truly their property and to be converted to their use only, shall be exempt from the weighing fee; all of which the weighmaster shall be obliged to weigh free of charge and for the sake of God. The director-general and council reserve to themselves, with the consent and ratification of the honorable directors, the lords and patroons of this city, the right to alter, diminish or enlarge this regulation according to the circumstances of the times and the state of affairs. Thus done at the session of the honorable director-general and high council held in New Amsterdam in New Netherland, 10 August 1654; present the honorable General and all of his councilors.

The above regulation was renewed and amplified on 11 April 1661.[3]


i.e., stockvishout; also known as citroenhout and geelhout (haematoxylon brasiletio): a dyewood yielding a yellow color.
harpuys was a mixture of pitch, tar and rosin used for caulking ships.
This note was added at a later date by another hand.


Translation: Gehring, C., trans./ed., New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 5, Council Minutes, 1652-1654 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1983).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.