World: Requiem for a Pennyweight

To present-day Englishmen, the British Imperial System does not mean the White Man's Burden but something very nearly as outdated: a labyrinthine heritage of weights and measures that would long since have driven a less hardy race to dementia or to decimals.

Britain's schoolchildren grapple for years with three different and conflicting methods of measuring weight (avoirdupois, troy and apothecaries' table), three ways of measuring length (linear, chain and nautical), and a bewildering variety of dry and liquid measurements, ranging from drachms, grains and scruples to tuns, hogsheads and chaldrons. Port is measured in pipes (105 gals.), people in stones (14 Ibs.),...

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