Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.

Volume 6, Number 4 - April 1960

Measures and Weights

KSN - Vol 6, No 4 - Measures and Weights

PDF of Issue

THE COVER: The foot was originally the average length of a man's foot and the inch the average width of his thumb; the foot and inch of today are near these sizes.

Road signs are measuring devices; this one tells how many miles this intersection is from three towns and from another road.

Standard measuring spoons of four sizes; the tablespoon holds twelve times as much as the quarter teaspoon.


Published by The Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia

Prepared and Issued by The Department of Biology, with the cooperation of the Division of Education

Editor: John Breukelman

Department of Biology Editorial Committee: Ina M. Borman, Robert F. Clarke, Helen M. Douglass, Gilbert A. Leisman, David Parmelee, Dixon Smith

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas teachers and others interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as the supply lasts, except Vol. 5, No.3, Poisonous Snakes of Kansas. Copies of this issue may be obtained for 25 cents each postpaid. Send orders to The Kansas School Naturalist, Department of Biology, State Teachers College, Emporia, Kansas.

The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April of each year by The Kansas State Teachers College, 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas. Second-class postage paid at Emporia, Kansas.


During the first year of publication of The Kansas School Naturalist, the sixth grade teachers of a large Kansas elementary school asked whether we might publish an article about some of the more unusual standards of weights and measures, such as the quintal, firkin, stone, and furlong. We have often received such questions as: "What is meant by a 10-penny nail?" and "How far is it supposed to be from the pitcher's box to home base?" At various times we have received requests for the size of a hectare, the diameter of a soccer ball, the difference between troy and apothecaries' weight, and the weight of a BB shot. Only a few measuring units have ever been defined in The Kansas School Naturalist, and these only on some suitable occasion; thus the acre-foot was defined in the issue dealing with watersheds, Some of the most frequently used equivalents were included in the December, 1959, issue on Conservation Arithmetic. As has been the case with several previous numbers of The Kansas School Naturalist, this issue has resulted from the work of many persons, most of whom were teachers enrolled in the Workshop in Conservation or in other summer school or in-service classes.

Many of our everyday "measures" are not definite; when we buy something by the can, box, pile, bundle, or sack, we do not have as precise an idea of the amount bought as when we buy by the pound, gallon, foot, or dozen. Some measures, such as a pinch of salt. are satisfactory for the situations in which they are used but are not accurate enough for any other purposes. We may happen to know how much is meant by a glob, slug, or hunk, but these slang terms' not even estimates.
Sometimes a given measure which is quite precise may designate different amounts under different conditions. Thus a gallon is smaller in the United States than in Canada, and a quart used for measuring corn meal is larger than a quart used for measuring milk.

Present day measures have come from many sources. Distance was once measured by the step, stride or pace, as the referee does when he measures off a penalty in a football game. The foot was the length of a man's foot, the yard the length of his arm, and the inch the width of his thumb or thumb nail. It is not merely coincidence that some languages use the same word for "thumb" and "inch." The grain was the weight of a grain of wheat or some other important crop, the bushel the amount of grain a man could carry conveniently. Each tribe or nation had its own set of measures. Because trade among peoples made it necessary to agree upon certain measures, standards were adopted. The process of standardization has not yet spread over the whole world and many different systems of measuring exist today.

Even the precise modern systems of measuring differ from each other. Two in common use in our country are the English system, so called because the English brought it to the new world when they established the American colonies, and the metric system, established by the French in 1890. The latter is based on the meter, which was supposed to be one ten millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole.

The standard meter is the distance between two lines engraved on a metal bar kept in a vault in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, in Paris, France. Our standard meter is engraved on a bar made of an alloy of platinum and iridium; this alloy does not expand and contract with ordinary temperature changes. The bar is kept at a constant temperature, in a vault in the National Bureau of Standards, in Washington, D.C.

Many people are surprised to learn that our yard is now defined in terms of the standard meter. By an act of Congress a yard is defined as 3600/ 3937 of a meter. Since a yard is 36 inches this is equivalent to saying that a meter is 39.37 inches. Note however that it is the meter, and not the yard, that is the standard.

In the United States we use the English system in most of our everyday measurements, and the metric system for most scientific and technological purposes. Sometimes we mix the two systems, as in a recent track meet in which the 220-yard dash was followed by the 1500-meter run.

Our next door neighbor to the South, Mexico, uses the metric system far more than we do. When we travel in Mexico we soon become accustomed to speed limits expressed in kilometers per hour, gasoline sold by the liter and dress goods by the meter, prices of meat and vegetables listed by the kilogram, crop yields reported for hectacres, and weather reports with temperatures in centigrade degrees and rainfall in millimeters.

This issue of The Kansas School Naturalist deals with those units in measuring distances, areas, volumes, and weights. The first plans included also measures of time, speed, temperature, and pressure, but it soon became obvious that space would not permit this. Perhaps these will be dealt with in some future numbers.


Measuring distance or linear space is important in itself, and is basic to measuring area and volume. Distance is measured in units of length. In measuring distance we are dealing with only one dimension.

The following are some of the more familiar English units used in linear measurement.

One foot = 12 inches
One yard = 3 feet
One rod (perch) = 5.5 yards (16.5 feet)
One mile = 320 rods (1760 yards, 5280 feet)

The units of the metric system are less familiar but equally important. The advantage of the metric system is the decimal plan; that is, the units are in multiples of 10. To change any metric unit to a larger or smaller unit requires only multiplying or dividing multiple of 10, or in other words, changing the decimal point to the right or left. Thus a foot equals 0.3048 meters, also equals 3.048 decimeters, or 30.48 centimeters, or 304.8 millimeters.

The names of the metric units are with a few exceptions made up of a standard set of prefixes attached to the basic unit of measurement. These prefixes, with examples based on meters, are listed below.

kilo-1000 (kilometer, 1000 meters)
hecto-100 (hectometer, 100 meters)
deca-10 (decameter, 10 meters)
deci-0.1 (decimeter, 0.1 meter)
centi-0.01 (centimeter, 0.01 meter)
milli-0.001 (millimeter, 0.001 meter)

Similarly, a kilogram equals 1000 grams, a milliliter one thousandth of a liter, and so on.

The meter is used for distances which are commonly measured in feet or yards of the English system; the kilometer is used where the English system uses the mile; centimeters or millimeters are used instead of inches. The more common equivalents are listed below.

One kilometer = 0.621 mile
One meter = 1.094 yards
One meter = 3.281 feet
One meter = 39.37 inches
One centimeter = 0.394 inches
One millimeter = 0.039 inches
One inch = 2.54 centimeters
One foot = 30.48 centimeters
One yard  = 0.914 meters
One yard = 91.44 centimeters
One mile = 1.609 kilometers
One mile   = 1609.3 meters

For measurements of microscopic objects, expressed in the English system by thousands of an inch, the metric system uses the micron, which is one thousandth of a millimeter. One inch thus equals 25,400 microns.

Paces or steps have often been used for linear measurement; these have been standardized in several ways. The step is usually defined as the distance between successive heel prints and the pace is the distance between successive heel prints of the same foot. A pace is thus two steps. The Roman pace was agreed upon as 4.85 feet or 1.48 meters. The step is most often considered to be 2.5 feet, but with many variations.

see caption below

By the English system the twig is three inches long; by the metric system it is 7.6 centimeters or 76 millimeters long.


see caption below

If our present-day mile of 5280 feet were 1000 paces, a pace would be 5.28 feet, or 63.36 inches,
and the step would be 2.64 feet or 31.68 inches.


Nearly everyone has heard of seven-league boots but perhaps few have stopped to think how far a league might be. Originally the league was supposed to be the distance the human eye could see on a clear day, The league has varied at different times and in different countries from about 2.5 to about 4.6 miles, but in recent times in English speaking countries it has usually been considered about  three miles. How long is a mile? This also has been quite variable. Originally the mile was 1000 Roman paces or 4850 feet. The nautical mile is considerably longer, being 6080 feet. The nautical mile was supposed to be 1/60th of one degree latitude at the equator. Other nautical measures are the fathom, which equals six feet, and the cable, which usually equals 100 fathoms, although the United States Navy uses a cable of 120 fathoms. Surveyors often use chain measure in which one link equals 7.92 inches, and 100 links equal one chain of 66 feet, or 22 yards. Ten chains equal one furlong, and 80 chains equal one mile. A furlong is thus one eighth of a mile or 220 yards, which is the distance of one of the popular races in high school and college track meets.

The engineers' chain differs from the surveyors' chain, being 100 feet long with links of one foot each. Thus 52.8 chains of this length equal one mile.

The hand or hands' breadth (four inches) and the palm (three inches) have often been used, particularly for indicating the size of animals. Thus a horse of 16 hands would be 64 inches high at the shoulders.

People living in cities or towns often remark that they live a certain number of blocks from the store or school; the block is a common measure of distance but a highly variable one. In many cities it is not uncommon for the longest blocks to be three or four times the length of the shortest ones. Even so, in the majority of cases a block is approximately one twelfth of a mile.

For astronomers and others who think in terms of distances in the universe the largest units so far mentioned are much too short. The star nearest to us, Proxima Centauri, is more than 25 trillion miles away. Therefore it is not practical for astronomers to measure in leagues or miles. They use a unit called the light year, which is the distance light travels in one year. At 186,000 miles per second, this distance is about six trillion miles. Proxima Centauri is thus a little more than four light years away.

A number of linear measurements are arrived at indirectly, being based originally on something other than actual measurement of distance. For example, the gauge of a shotgun is based on the size of the shot that will just pass through the barrel. A 12-gauge shotgun has a barrel which will just permit .the passage of a single shot weighing one twelfth of a pound. This diameter has been standardized at 0.729 inch; the corresponding diameters of 16 gauge and 20 gauge shotguns are 0.662 and 0.615 respectively. Choked barrels are somewhat smaller at the muzzle, so that a 20-gauge full choke barrel has a muzzle diameter of 0.589 inch. However, the caliber of a rifle was not so derived; it is a direct measurement of the diameter in hundredths of an inch. Thus a 22-caliber rifle is 0.22 inch in inside diameter.

Sizes of Shot
 Number of Shot Per Ounce
12 0.05  2400          
10 0.07  870          
9 0.08  585          
6 0.11  225          


BB 0.18  50          

The sizes of shot are given arbitrary numbers; Table I shows for several sizes of shot the pellet in inches and of such shot per ounce.

The diameter of wire is often measured in mils, one mil being one thousandth of an inch. The gauge of wire is an arbitrary number, and varies according to the system used. Thus the diameter, in mils, of No.5 wire may be 181.9, 204, 207, 212, 218.75, or 220, depending on which of six systems, all used in the United States, is used for the particular piece of wire. The diameters in mils for three systems of wire gauges are shown in Table II.

Brown &
& Moen
 0          324.9           306.5          324         


289.3           283.0          300        
 2          257.6          262.5          276        
3          229.4          243.7          252        
4          204.3          225.3          232        
6          162.0          192.0          192        
7          144.3          177.0          176         
8          128.5          162.0          160        
10          101.9          135.0          128        
12          80.8          105.5          104        
14          64.1          80.0          80        
16          50.8          62.5          64        
20          32.0          34.8          36        
30          17.9          20.4          20        

Copper wire for electrical circuits is measured in Brown & Sharpe gauge numbers; that from which wire nails are made is measured by Washburn & Moen numbers. The British Standard numbers are used for most other wire sold in this country.

The unit of nail size is the penny; originally this unit indicated the number of pennies per pound paid for the nails. At that time 10-penny (usually written 10d) nails cost 10 pennies per pound. Table III shows the present standardized measurements of nails of the ordinary building type, usually called common nails. There are many different designs of nails, and the measurements vary, as might be expected.


Nail Size

Length Wire Size Number Per Pound


       1        15 880                 
4-d                1.5        12.5 320                 
6-d                2        11.5 180                 
7-d                2.25        11.5 160                 
8-d                2.5        10.25 105                 
10-d                3        9 70                 
16-d                3.5        8 50                 
20-d                4        6 30                 


see caption below

WIRE NAILS: Common nails and box nails of the same penny size are the same length,
but most sizes of box nails are made of smaller wire.


Measurement of area is dependent upon the measurement of distance. In measuring area we are dealing with two dimensions; we usually refer to them as length and width (or breadth).

The measurement of square or rectangular areas involves simply the multiplying of the two dimensions, each of which is linear. The dimensions must of course be ex¬pressed in the same units. The units of area are square units; thus if the two dimensions are measured in inches, the area will be expressed in square inches. The measurement of irregular areas, especially those with curved boundaries is more complicated but the units of measurement will be the same as those of the square or the rectangle.

In the English system of square measure some of the common units are listed below.

One square foot = 144 square inches
One square yard = 9 square feet
One square yard = 1296 square inches
One square rod = 30.25 square yards
One acre = 160 square rods
One acre = 34,560 square feet
One rood = 40 square rods
One square mile (section) = 640 acres
One township = 36 square miles


see caption below

In the metric system common units of square measure are the square centimeter, square meter and square kilometer. The common measure of land area (correspond¬ing to the acre in the English sys¬tem) is the hectare, which is a square hectameter or 10,000 square meters. One hundred hectares equal a square kilometer, which consists of one million square meters.

Some of the common equivalents are shown below.

One square inch = 6.452 square centimeters
One square foot = 929 square centimeters
One square yard = 0.836 square meters
One square rod = 25.29 square meters
One square mile = 2.59 square kilometers
One acre = 0.405 hectares
One square centimeter = 0.155 square inches
One square meter = 10.76 square feet
One square kilometer = 0.386 square miles
One hectare = 2.47 acres

A number of less familiar units of square measure are in more or less general use. The acre, already defined in terms of square rods and square feet, also equals 1/10th of a square furlong, or 10 square chains (surveyors). The fathom, previously defined as a linear unit, is also used in mining to designate an area six feet x six feet or 36 square feet. When you need shingles for a roof, you will likely buy them by the square, one square being enough to cover an area 10 feet x 10 feet or 100 square feet.

The sizes of the common athletic game areas may often be used to help picture the sizes of other areas. Pupils are familiar with the size of a baseball "diamond" and football field, and can use this knowledge in gaining an understanding of other areas. It may help a pupil to know, for example, that a football field, including the end zones, occupies slightly more than one and one fourth acres.

The sizes of the playing areas of some school games are shown in Table IV. These are standard sizes as listed in sports handbooks, but sometimes space is not available and smaller areas must be used.

Badminton 40 20 Net 5 feet high
Baseball, infield 90 90  
Basketball (college) 94 50 These are recommended,
but basketball is played
in many buildings that do
not permit these sizes.
(high school) 90 50  
(junior high school) 74 42  
Football 300 160 Plus end zones of 30 x 160
goal posts 20 ft. high.
18 1/2 feet apart, cross bar
10 feet high.
Horseshoes (adults) No definite sizes   Pins one foot high,
30 feet apart
(junior) No definite sizes   Pins one foot high,
20 feet apart
Soccer 300-360 165-225 Goal posts 24 feet apart;
cross bar 8 feet high

Tennis (service and playing area)



To 120

To 60
Volleyball (indoor) 60 30 Net 8 feet high
(outdoor)  To 90 To 45  

see caption below


Measurement of volume, like that of area, is dependent on measurement of distance. In measuring volume we are dealing with three dimensions. We may call these length, width (breadth) and height (thickness). The units of volume measurements are cubic units. The volume of a cube (or other solid of which all surfaces are rectangles or squares) is simply the product of three dimensions. Thus, if the three dimensions are measured in inches, the volume will be expressed in cubic inches.

Some volume measurements are simply the cubes of linear measure; thus one cubic yard equals three x three x three or 27 cubic feet, one cubic foot equals 12 x 12 x 12 or 1,728 cubic inches, and so on. In everyday life we do not often use such units, however. Far more often we use such units as quarts, bushels, cords, barrels, or teaspoons.

There is much variation in units of volume. Both the British bushel and the British gallon are larger than the American, as are the various subdivisions such as pecks or quarts. It has already been noted that dry quarts and fluid or liquid quarts are also different.

One of the most variable of the volume measures is the barrel, which is defined as 25, 27, 30.5, 31.5, 42, 43.25, and 50 gallons, 5826 to 7056 cubic inches, and 5 cubic feet, and perhaps in other ways. The hogshead, which is sometimes thought of as a type of barrel, equals 63 gallons. In Kansas, the standard barrel for fruits, vegetables, and dry commodities equals 7056 cubic inches, or 30.5 gallons.

Some of the more common and important volume units are shown below.

One bushel = 2150.4 cubic inches
One bushel = 4 pecks
One bushel = 32 dry quarts
One bushel = 64 dry quarts
One gallon = 231 cubic inches
One gallon = 4 liquid quarts
One gallon = 8 liquid pints
One gallon = 32 gills
One gallon = 128 fluid ounces
One fluid ounce = 1.80 cubic inches
One fluid dram = 0.225 cubic inches

As noted before, the British or Imperial gallon which is used in Canada is about one fifth or 20 per cent larger than ours, or 277.3 cubic inches. The Imperial quart therefore equals 69.3 cubic inches. So if the gasoline tank of your car holds 20 gallons in Kansas, a little more than 16.5 Imperial gallons will fill it when you travel in Canada. If an oil change requires 6 quarts of oil in Kansas, five quarts will be enough in Canada.

It must be remembered that these differences in the volumes of gallons will be matched by differences in cost of products sold by the gallon. Thus if gasoline sells for 30 cents per gallon in Kansas, this is based on a 231 cubic inch gallon. The corresponding cost of a 277 cubic inch gallon would be 36 cents. Americans traveling in Canada have been known to overlook this and to complain about the expensive Canadian gasoline.

Apples and other fruits are often sold by the box. This is a somewhat variable measure, usually near the bushel. In Kansas a standard apple box has inside dimensions of 10.5 x 11.5 x 18 inches; its capacity is thus slightly greater than one bushel.

Firewood is often sold by the cord; this is a pile of wood four x four x eight feet, or 128 cubic feet, or 4.74 cubic yards. Lumber is sold by the board foot; this is often thought of as a linear unit, but is really one twelfth of a cubic foot, or 144 cubic inches. Thus a board six feet long, one foot wide and one inch thick is six board feet, but if the board is six inches wide and one inch thick, it must be 12 feet long in order to be six board feet. These widths and thicknesses apply to unplaned lumber; the actual dimensions of planed lumber are somewhat smaller. For example a "two by four" is actually 1 5/8 x 3 5/8 inches.

diagram of lumber measurement

Among the common kitchen measures are cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. These have been standardized as follows:

One pint = 2 cups
One cup = 16 tablespoons
One fluid ounce = 2 tablespoons
One tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
One teaspoon = 1.33 fluid drams
One teaspoon = 4.9 cubic centimeters

In the metric system the volume units are the cubes of linear units - cubic millimeters, cubic centimeters,
cubic meters, and so on. The liter, used for measuring liquid, equals 1008 cubic centimeters, and 1000 liters equal one cubic meter.

see caption below

The Imperial gallon is noticeably larger than our gallon, having 20 per cent greater capacity.

Some of the volume equivalents are as follows:

One cubic centimeter = .061 cubic inch
One cubic decimeter = .35 cubic foot

One cubic meter


=  1.31 cubic yards

= .908 dry quart
One liter = 1.057 fiuid quarts
One liter = 2.84 bushels
One hectoliter = 16.4 cubic centimeters
One cubic inch
One cubic foot
One cubic yard = 28.3 decimeters
One dry quart = .765 cubic meter
One fluid quart = 1.1 liters
One gallon = .946 liter
One bushel  = 3.79 liters
= .352 hectoliters


The gravitational "pull" of the earth on an object is called the weight of the object. In general, weighing devices are of two types. In one, the object to be weighed is balanced against objects of known weight; in the other, the object stretches or twists a spring and the weight is read on a scale which has previously been determined. The tension of the spring may change as it becomes old, so spring "balances" often have an adjusting screw which enables the weigher to set the pointer or dial at zero before weighing an object.

see caption below

Top: The middle cup is a standard measuring cup; those to the left hold more, and those to the right less, than the standard. The far left cup holds almost three times as much as the far right.
Bottom: The standard measuring cup is shown with the smaller units of one half, one third, and one fourth cups. The smallest of these holds four tablespoons.

Standard limits of weight, like those of length, area, and volume are extremely varied, and for the same reasons. They have their origin in the various customs and experiences of different groups of people. No doubt you know the riddle: "Which weighs more-a pound of feathers or a pound of butter?" And the answer: "They weigh the same--one pound." But if the riddle says "gold" instead of "butter" the pound of feathers weighs more, because the weight unit for feathers is the a avoirdupois pound (7000 grams) while the unit for gold is the troy pound (5760 grains).

see caption below

The liter and the quart are not noticeably different, the quart being almost 95 per cent of the liter.


Avoirdupois Weight        
27.3 grains = 1 dram 20 grains = 1 scruple 24 grains = 1 pwt.
16 drams = 1 ounce 3 scruples = 1 dram 20 pwt. = 1 oz.
16 ounces = 1 pound 8 drams = 1 ounce 12 ounces = 1 lb.
100 pounds = 1 cwt. 12 ounces = 1 pound pennyweight = pwt.
20 cwt. = 1 short ton      
22.4 cwt. = 1 long ton (The ounce and the pound are the same 
hundredweight = cwt.  in Apothecaries' and Troy weight.)


"Avoir du pois" is French, meaning "to have some weight" or "goods of weight." The avoirdupois pound equals 16 ounces, one ounce equaling 437.5 grains. Troy weight is named for Troyes, France; in this system a pound equals 12 ounces of 480 grains each. In other words a pound of weathers weighs 16 avoirdupois ounces (7000 grains) while a pound of gold weighs slightly less than 13.2 avoirdupois ounces (5760 grains).

A third system, the apothecaries' weight, is used for weighing drugs and medicines. The three systems are shown in Table V.

In the metric system the units of weight are based on units of volume. A gram was originally defined as the weight of one cubic centimeter of pure water at its maximum density, or at a temperature of four degrees Centigrade. It is now defined as one one thousandth of the standard kilogram. Our standard kilogram is the polished cylinder kept in a vault in the Natural Bureau of Standards. At intervals of ten years or so, it is checked with the official international standard which is housed in Paris.

The same prefixes are used to indicate multiples and fractions of weights as are used for lengths areas of volumes. Thus a kilogram equals 1000 grams, and 1000 milligrams equal one gram. A metric ton equals 1000 kilograms, or 2200 pounds. Some of the more common equivalents are shown below.

One long ton
(2240 pounds)
= 1.016 metric tons
One short ton
(2200 pounds)
=. 0.907 metric tons
One avoirdupois pound = 0.454 kilograms
One troy pound = 0.373 kilograms
One avoirdupois ounce = 28.35 kilograms
One troy ounce = 31.1 grams
One grain = 64.8 milligrams
One avoirdupois dram = 1772 milligrams
One apothecaries' dram = 3888 milligrams
One metric ton = 1.1 short tons
One kilogram = 2.2 avoirdupois pounds
One kilogram = 2.68 troy pounds
One gram = 15.4 grains
One gram = 0.257 apothecaries' drams
One gram = 0.032 troy ounces
One gram = 0.035 avoirdupois ounces

Many less familiar units are used, such as the stone which varies from about four to more than 20 pounds, depending on the country and the special use. When used in the United States the stone most often equals 14 pounds. A quintal may be either 100 kilograms or 100 pounds; in the latter case it equals the hundredweight. A firkin is either a measure of volume (usually 0.25 barrel) or of weight (usually 56 pounds). A carat is the unit of weight often used for precious stones and jewels, equal to 200 milligrams; it is also a measure of the purity of an alloy such as gold. In this case (often written karat) it means one part in 24; thus 14-carat gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals.

The Biblical talent was a measure of weight. While it varied from time to time and place to place the talent most often equaled 60 minas, and one mina equaled either 50 or 60 shekels. A shekel was about 250 grains, or a little more than a half ounce. Talents, minas, and shekels were commonly used as monetary measures, and even today we use the term shekel as a slang expression for a coin.

In many cases certain weight standards have been adopted for volume measures. Thus in many areas 50 pounds of apples are considered a bushel even though one actual bushel might weigh more and another less than this accepted weight. Similarly wheat is often sold by weight, at the rate of 60 pounds per bushel (with suitable allowances for moisture content) even though the price is quoted per bushel. Many states, including Kansas, have established official weights per bushel, and these are not always uniform. For example, in various states the official weights for barley vary all the way from 32 to 50 pounds per bushel. Some of the common weights in pounds per bushel are: Wheat, 60; rye, 56; corn, 52 to 56; potatoes, 56 to 60. Kansas has established the following legal weights per bushel: oats, 32; barley, 48; shelled corn, 56; wheat, 60.

In some cases minimum legal weights per volume have been set. Thus in Kansas ice cream for sale must weight at least 4.5 pounds per gallon and must contain at least 1.6 pounds of total food solids per gallon.

Standard dimensions and weights have been established for most types of athletic equipment. A few of these are shown in Table VI.


The laws of Kansas, as of most other states, set certain labeling requirements for commodities sold in packages. The Kansas law says that with certain exceptions "it shall be unlawful to expose for sale, or offer for sale, or exchange, or sell any commodity in package form: (1) which does not bear on the outside of the package, a definite, plain, and conspicuously printed or written declaration of the net quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or count, and (2) which does not bear the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor of any packaged commodity not sold on the premises when packed."

see caption below

The manufacturer of this chocolate not
only showed on the label both the number
of pieces and the weight, but also gave the
weight in both English and metric units.


Item Dimensions Weight Notes
Baseball Circum. 9-9 1/4 in. 5-5 1/4 ounces  
Baseball bat Max. length, 42 in., Diam. 2 3/4 in. 34-36 ounces  
Basketball Circum., 29 1/2 - 30 in. 20-22 ounces

Inflated to about 13 lbs.
per sq. in.

(for men)
(for women)

Diam., 5 5/8 in.
Diam. 7/ 5/64 in.

4 lbs., 3 1/4 oz.
2 lbs., 3 1/4 oz
May be either all metal or
wood and metal
Football Long axis: Circum., 28 - 28 1/2 in., short axis: 21 - 21 1/4 in. 14-15 ounces Inflated to 12 1/2 to
13 1/2 lb. per sq. in.
Golf ball Daim. (English), 1.62 in. max. (American), 1.68 in. max. 1.62 oz. max.  
Horseshoe Length, 7 1/2 inches
Width, 7 inches
Opening, 3 1/2 inches
2 1/2 pounds  
Height, 3 1/2 feet
Height, 2 1/2 feet
  For 120 yard or
100 meter races
For 200 or 220 yard or
200 meter races


Min., 260 centimeters
Min., 220 centimeters
Min., 800 gms.
Min., 600 gms.
(high school)
Size varies according metal used 16 lbs.
12 lbs.
8 lbs.
Soccer ball Circum., 27-28 in. 14-16 ounces Inflated to 12-13 lbs. per sq. in.
Softball Circum., 11 7/8 - 12 1/8 in. 6 - 6 3/4 ounces  
Tennis ball Diam., 2.5 to 2.6 in. 2 to 2.1 ounces Must be "live" enough to bounce at least 52 in.
when dropped on concrete
from height of 100 in.
Volleyball Circum., 26-27 in. 10-12 ounces per sq. in. Inflated to 7 to 8 lbs.

The photographs in this issue were taken from the files of the Department of Biology. The sketches were drawn by Harold Willis, biology student. The drawing and table showing nail sizes were supplied by the Kansas Lumber Company, and standard Kansas measurements and weights were supplied by the Weights and Measures Division of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture.

The Kansas School Naturalist Department of Biology 
  College of Liberal Arts & Sciences 
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Kansas School Naturalist.
 Emporia State University