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Subject:Sizes (fwd) From:Ann Balaban <annb -at- DADD -dot- TI -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 23 Jun 1994 16:35:52 -0600
I received this from a German on our staff who just cannot understand how
"you Americans" can not know the history of this.... anyway it's a good
history lesson and I thought you might enjoy her response.
is this another example of an honest request for information or is it
a joke? I will treat it as the honest version .....
Why do we have different sizes etc. ... We (Christiains, Eurocentric)
had one-size-fits-all monastic bibles, they were fairly standard. I say
fairly because there were guidelines but no strictly enforced measurements.
Then things became interesting .. there were quartos and others to make
all those juicy novels and travelogs and guides easier to store during
travel. And havoc reigned ...
Furthermore... things were always (in Europe) governed by THE AUTHORITIES.
And THE AUTHORITIES measured things differently and called measurements
by different names. For example, in Germany there was a common measurement
called Elle, which is somewhat like a yard. Depending upon where you
happened to be this was different. The one in Munich was shorter than the
one in Hamburg. Same with all other kinds of measurements ....
Only in the late 19th century did Germans unite and mandate a standard.
The French had done this much earlier, but they were pretty much on their
own. Italians, forget them .... etc etc.
I have some old cookbooks (pre-1850) that state everywhere what they
measure and how. For example, something like "one cup is approximately
3 large eggs when gathered before dawn and put into cold water".
Page size and other industrial standards became common around WW1.