:: The "mesures
usuelles" in 1812 ::
1800 on, each annual circular from the Department of the Interior deplored
the delays: "The effective use of the new measures could have made better
progress. It is time for such an important institution to no longer be a
vain and useless theory. It is time, above all, that commercial transactions
stopped being hindered by the mixture of the new measures with the former
ones" (1805 circular). This text seems to admit that the 1800 return to
former names was not a good decision. Nevertheless, the government was to do
was then thought that "the resistance to the adoption of the new measures is
not due to the system itself but only to the fact that the everyday units
that were deducted may not be enough appropriate to people everyday needs.
The division by ten is very favourable to calculation, but it is not to the
operations that people have to do everyday" (1812 circ.).
former names will be used again and it will be allowed to give up the
decimal division and to return to former subdivisions.
measure is decided by the 12 February 1812 decree: "there will be no change
in the French units of weights and measures" but "some weighing and
measuring tools will be created for commercial use; they will present either
fractions or multiples of these units, which are the most used in trade and
suitable to people's needs".
implementation texts - 28 March and following decree and circular - stressed
on the fact that "because these clauses are only linked with the use of
measures and weights in retail business and in everyday use, the legal
measures will still be the only ones to be used in civil engineering,
wholesale trade and all the transactions in trade and other areas. The legal
system will be the only one to be taught in public schools too." They are
just "allowed measures" that always mention their relation with metric
values. Besides, the use of these measures will have to be subjected to
another examination within ten years.
from 1812 on (and until 1839), retailers were allowed to use:
A 2 metre
high gauge, dividing into 6 feet. The foot - that equals therefore one
third of a metre - divides into 12 inches and the inch divides into 12
centimetre aune, dividing into halves, thirds, etc.
equivalent to one eighth of hectolitre, which has its double, its half
and its quarter.
which can be divided into halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths.
gramme pound, which can be divided into 16 ounces; an ounce can be
divided into 8 gros; the gros can be divided into 72 grains.
"mesures usuelles" system intended to have the metric system accepted by
replacing it in a "well-known to people" framework, but this framework was
only well-known to the Paris area inhabitants. Moreover, confusion could
worsen. For exemple, the pound, which was equivalent to nearly 489 grammes
in 1789, then to 1000 grammes in 1800, was now 500 gramme heavy!