City of Boston
Boston Inspectional Services
Contact Us
City Departments
Weights & Measures History
Weights and Measures was one of the earliest government functions because of necessity. Uniform weights & measures were critical to the economy. Today they still are. The history of weights & measures is a very long one. Weights & Measures have roots going back to prehistoric times and the development of measurements probably took place between 10,000 and 8000 BC. As different cultures began trading with one another, standard forms of measurement were needed. The Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians and Hebrews all used the cubit, which is the earliest known unit of measurement. There are many references made to weights & measures in the Old Testament, "for having used a false weight or balance was considered a terrible sin".

Here in Boston, in 1631, through an order of the Court of Assistants, held at Boston, every plantation within the limits of the Patent was required to have weights and measures compared and sealed with those in possession of the governor. In 1635, James Pen, Sheriff, was appointed to test and seal weights and measures. Many notable Bostonians with names such as Franklin, Fanuiel and Adams were prominent in local weights & measures.

The Roman adage, "Caveat Emptor", which has served through the ages as the warning of " Let the Buyer Beware" on matters of quantity, has lost much of its significance in this country, at least in those jurisdictions which have good programs of Weights and Measures enforcement. We feel the City of Boston possesses one of the best local Weights & Measures jurisdictions in the country. In Boston we are fortunate to have received the great support needed to make our program one of the best. The very fact that so few people today know and understand that age old maxim, "Caveat Emptor" is in part tribute to the progress that weights & measures enforcement has had overall in providing the circumstances favorable to an atmosphere of consumer confidence in the merchant. And, for today's merchandising climate, that confidence is most essential to the high speed, mass handling of huge volume, at both retail and wholesale levels.

News and Press Releases
ISD Hours of Operation:
1010 Mass Ave.
Monday - Friday:

   8:00am - 4:00pm
Thursday Evening:
Building Division Only
   8:00am - 7:00pm

Please note that the cashier closes 15 minutes prior to closing

City Calendar
City Calendar See a listing of inspectional services hearings.
Breathe Easy at Home
Breathe Easy At Home is a web-based referral system, allowing health professionals to refer their patients with asthma for a home inspection, conducted by the Inspectional Services Department.
Listen Now »
Directions to ISD
Click here for directions to the Inspectional Services Department.
Related Links
Get Adobe Reader
Many forms are available in PDF format. To view and print in PDF format, you must download and install the reader.

Get Adobe Reader
Text Size: XX-Small Font Size X-Small Font Size Small Font Size

Privacy & Security Divider © 2014 City of Boston. All rights reserved.