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Louth Museum

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Bushel

by Emma, work experience student

Bushel measure

Bushel measure

Bushel in museum

Bushel in museum

My name is Emma, and I am a work experience student at Louth Museum. I was intrigued by the brass imperial containers. The largest brass imperial container is called a bushel. A bushel was used to measure dry goods and was used in agriculture and in shops to determine the true value that the goods would be sold at.

The bushel container in the museum is inside a wooden box marked as being made in London. The bushel itself is stamped by the corporation that the bushel was sent to, in this case, the Corporation of Louth. The bushel is less than half a barrel and for usage you had to fill it until it was overflowing and then settle the grain with a stick and scrape off the surplus gathered at the top.

Contents were usually teemed into a bag or a sack and filled with 4-5 bushels, depending on the size. It was stamped by the Weights and Measures Inspectors and these inspectors would check shops’ amounts. All shops were supplied with a stick by the inspector; however, some shops used a stick with a straight edge to give an honest measure and added a curved edge to give a short measure.

The imperial unit ‘bushel’ in today’s metric system would be 36.37 litres and the container itself is 18.5 inches in diameter and 8 inches in height. The name bushel originated from the French word ‘boissel’ and ‘buissel’ meaning ‘little box.’ The box was made from either oak, iron, or brass. If it were made of brass, like the one on display in Louth Museum, it would be manufactured by mixing raw materials into the molten metal, which are then allowed to solidify into shape. The bushel started as an imperial measurement in 1824, and ten years later the bushel in Louth Museum was manufactured. The bushel as an official measure was discontinued in 1936.