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British Food Journal Volume 2 Issue 9 1900

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 1 September 1900


There are very few individuals who have studied the question of weights and measures who do not most strongly favour the decimal system. The disadvantages of the weights and measures at present in use in the United Kingdom are indeed manifold. At the very commencement of life the schoolboy is expected to commit to memory the conglomerate mass of facts and figures which he usually refers to as “Tables,” and in this way the greater part of twelve months is absorbed. And when he has so learned them, what is the result? Immediately he leaves school he forgets the whole of them, unless he happens to enter a business‐house in which some of them are still in use; and it ought to be plain that the case would be very different were all our weights and measures divided or multiplied decimally. Instead of wasting twelve months, the pupil would almost be taught to understand the decimal system in two or three lessons, and so simple is the explanation that he would never be likely to forget it. There is perhaps no more interesting, ingenious and useful example of the decimal system than that in use in France. There the standard of length is the metre, the standard of capacity the cubic decimetre or the litre, while one cubic centimetre of distilled water weighs exactly one gramme, the standard of weight. Thus the measures of length, capacity and weight are most closely and usefully related. In the present English system there is absolutely no relationship between these weights and measures. Frequently a weight or measure bearing the same name has a different value for different bodies. Take, for instance, the stone; for dead meat its value is 8 pounds, for live meat 14 pounds; and other instances will occur to anyone who happens to remember his “Tables.” How much simpler for the business man to reckon in multiples of ten for everything than in the present confusing jumble. Mental arithmetic in matters of buying and selling would become much easier, undoubtedly more accurate, and the possibility of petty fraud be far more remote, because even the most dense could rapidly calculate by using the decimal system.


(1900), "British Food Journal Volume 2 Issue 9 1900", British Food Journal, Vol. 2 No. 9, pp. 241-274.




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