Wine gauging rod

An early 20th century wine gauging rod.
Figure 1: An early 20th century wine gauging rod.
I acquired this wine gauging rod in April 2018. The term wine gauging rod is a general term for tools that were used to measure the volume of liquids in containers like barrels. Although the first word of the term is wine, these rods were not necessarily used to only measure quantities of this beverage. In Dutch the wine gauging rod is known as a wijnroeiersstok and the person who used it, the wine gauger, was known as a Wijnroeier or Wynroeyer in old Dutch.
Wine gauging rods have a long history. I have came across them during my research of navigational instruments as early as the seventeenth century,1 while the oldest known publication on the subject dates from 1513.2 Joost van Breen, the inventor of the 1660 spiegelboog, was, next to his profession as an administrator of goods, supplies and ammunition for the Dutch Admiralty of Zeeland, also a Wynroeyer. This profession even had its own standard at the time, the Wynroeyer's voet (wine gauger's foot), which was 289 millimetres in length, divided into 12 duim (inches) of 24.1 millimetres. This Wynroeyer's voet may even have been used in the construction in navigational instruments like the 1623 hoekboog and 1660 spiegelboog.1

Inscriptions and stamps on the wine gauger's rod.
Figure 2: Inscriptions and stamps on the wine gauger's rod.
The wine gauger's rod shown here is of more recent origin and carries several inscriptions and stamps. In one side the rod is divided at regular intervals, indicating that the barrel that was gauged with it had a cylindrical or rectangular shape. On the adjacent side the each fifth division is repeated and annotated with the whole numbers 1 to 7 (see figure 2), while at that same side, at the end of the scale, the text "7 80HL" can be found (see figure 1 and figure 4). A 1 metre high cylindrical barrel of 1 metre diameter has a volume of 7.85HL. The 7.80HL division is located at 933 millimetres from the end for the rod, indicating that the barrel that was gauged with it must have been 1032 millimetres in diameter. The lower end of the rod has a copper protection cap (see figure 5) to avoid shortening due to wear.
On the side of the finest graduations the rod is annotated "LEGGER.No 8 KAD.SECTIE G No2424" (see figure 1 and figure 4. G 2424 refers to an incomplete entry of the Kadaster, the Dutch Land Registry and Mapping Agency, probably indicating the plot with a building in which the rod was used. Normally such an entry should be accompanied by the name of the town. Sadly enough there is no indication of that, and although the previous owner thought it was used in the area Delfland, none of the towns in that area has a plot known under this number. As all Dutch towns have their own numbering it is almost impossible to locate the premises in which the rod was used.

One of the punched marks on the wine gauger's rod.
Figure 3: One of the punched marks on the wine gauger's rod.
Another indication of its official use are the punched marks in the shape of a circle with the characters RA. Most likely these stood for "Rijks Accijns" (governmental tax). One can be found at the 7.80HL mark, the other at an additional mark somewhat higher up the rod, possibly indicating the top of the barrel, so that the wine gauger could verify its proper length.


[1]: N. de Hilster, Navigation on Wood, Wooden Navigational Instruments 1590-1731: An analysis of early modern western instruments for celestial navigation, their origins, mathematical concepts and accuracies., (PhD thesis, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, May 2018), pp. 285, 292, 310-311, 334.
[2]: Th. van der Noot, Die Waerachtige Const der Geometrien...Hoemen maken sal die wijnroede, om daer mede te roeden alderhande tonnen vaten cuypen backen ende dier ghelijcke (Brussel, 1513). Also see P. Bockstaele, Het Oudst Bekende Gdrukte Nederlandse Meetkundeboek: Die Waerachtige Const der Geometrien (1513).

If you have any questions and/or remarks please let me know.

The annotation on teh wine gauger's rod.
Figure 4: The annotation on teh wine gauger's rod.
The copper protection at the start of the rod.
Figure 5: The copper protection at the start of the rod.

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