Antiques & Collectibles: Want vintage scales? Where there's a will, there's a weigh

A 1940s American Family scale.

If you love kitchen collectibles like I do, one hot collectible now is the kitchen scale.

In my recent travels I have noticed antique, vintage and retro scales at flea markets and antique malls. I have also noticed many shop owners and farmers market vendors using scales.


Scales were made to weigh everything from coins to food products, babies and more. The first were balance scales, followed by spring scales, then electronic scales in the 1940s. Today you can find scales made from brass, cast-iron and plastic.

Fancy postal scales in decorative wood, silver, marble, bronze and mosaic are even found, and collectors have found them all. The most popular scales are the small gold dust scales and special farmers market/grocery scales.


I love the Dayton candy style scale and the Molen produce scale, a fun, industrial type to hang in a kitchen to hold produce. And of course my favorite — you can find it in many decorator magazines — is the 1940 American Family scale that comes in colors from cream yellow to red and more. They were made in the U.S. and are valued at $95 or more in good working condition. The 1940 Montgomery Ward family scale in black to green is also a nice find.

Kitchen scales lately have gathered a real dedicated group of collectors, but what is really a nice find is a Jaybee wicker baby scale that can be found in blue, white and pink, around $100 in great condition.

Seeking more information? I recommend the book "Scales: A Collector's Guide," by Bill and Jan Berning.

Where to find

Many older homes, you'll find, have lost their charm in the kitchen. Details are lost when modernizing, so more folks are heading to antique shops, flea markets, thrift shops, country auctions, online auctions and any online selling sites in search of a vintage anything that can bring back the charm to the home. They are also choosing things like enamel kitchenware and vintage kitchen scales to bring back that vintage charm.

Recently, I spoke with shop owners to discover this year's biggest trends, among which is the kitchen scale. Sarah Kieffer, owner, Sarah's Uniques and Jim's "Man"tiques Antique Mall, St. Charles, told me, "I have several scales right now. I have small- and medium-size scales that all work. They are great looking on an old cupboard and most definitely can be used as well. I also have a large platform scale that would weigh grain, corn and more that is (in the) $100 range and the others are from $30 and up."

Chris Rand Kujath, owner of Old River Valley Antique Mall, Stewartville, said, "Scales have been very popular and a great seller. Most people think of kitchen scales, but so many different types and styles of scales can be found. We usually carry fishing, feed, grain and butter scales. I love the brass scales, and we currently have an antique Winchester-Howe brass grain scale with bucket. Prices vary depending on the material they are made of, if it has advertising on (it), and the condition."

Angie Pehler, owner of Angie's Vintage Rust at Treasures Under Sugar Loaf, Winona, said, "Collectors of old nostalgic kitchen items are buying for use and displays in their kitchens since they find those Pinterest ideas using scales and other unique antique and vintage items. I can't keep scales long in my booth, and my last scale sold for $22."


Weighing in

Merchant General Store in Black River Falls, Wis., is a place where you can sit down and have an old-fashioned soda pop or ice cream. But it wouldn't be the same without a few scales on display and for use.

Store owner Darren Durman has a few lined up on his back counter. They're great for weighing old-time classic candy.

Durman tells me where he has found his scales and a price range that he stays within. "I pick them up in several different places from flea market, garage sales and some private individuals that have come into the store. My price range $10 to $50."

One thing that I have found and love the most about vintage finds from the 1940s to even the '70s (which is my growing-up time period) is not just the nostalgia value but that they are durable and have stood the test of time. These items were built to last, and you can still find good quality scales and other items for a fraction of the cost of new items.

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