The Evolution of Weights and Measures in New Spain Author(s): Manuel Carrera Stampa Source: The Hispanic American
Historical Review, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Feb., 1949), pp. 2-24 Published by: Duke University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2508291 . Accessed: 22/06/2011 15:40
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=duke. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact email@example.com.
Duke University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Hispanic American Historical Review.
THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
MANUEL CARRERA STAMPA*
Much has been written concerning the spiritual conquest of America-of the clash of western civilization with the autochthonous cultures of this hemisphere, the subjugation of various ethnic groups, and the imposition upon the aborigines of a new religion. Relatively little has been said of the economic penetration and expansion, though as compared with spiritual influences the economic conquest was undoubtedly deeper and more lasting. Nothing took firmer root in the native economy than the Spanish system of weights and measures. So completely did the European standards supplant native practices that even today the weights, measures,
and monetary standard of Mexico derive almost exclusively
from the metrology of colonial times. Following the conquest of Spain, Roman weights and measures were brought into the peninsula, although, as archaeologists 'and numismatists have shown, the Iberians were already familiar with coined money and probably weights and measures. Roman measures largely disappeared with the invasions of the fifth century, but at least two units of Roman origin persisted, the so-called Roman foot (.295 meter) and the digit (.0185 meter).' The barbarians and, later on, the Arabs introduced their own weights, measures, and coinage. Of Moorish measures, a number such as adarme and cahiz remained until the end of the nineteenth century. In general, a confusing variety of metrological practices has characterized Spain since medieval times. Every region, every province, and often every town had its own system, which it enforced upon all business enterprise within its jurisdiction. The lack of uniformity in standards placed
* The author, who received his training at El Colegio de Mexico, is at present a teacher in Mexican economic history at the Escuela Superior de Guerra, Mexico City. The article was translated by Professor Robert S. Smith of Duke University. 1 J. Marquardt, L 'organisation financiere chez les romaines (trans. by A. Vigne; Paris, 1888), pp. 90-94.
3 Much earlier a remedy had been proposed in the ordinances issued by Cortes in 1524. all sealed with the stamp of the respective town. dry measures:the half-fanega of Avila.
. It was these monarchs who created a new vara. Alaman. Tratado complete teorweo y prdctico de contabilidad mercantile. Charles IV.from the standardmark in possessionof the Council of Castile. but no radical changes were achieved until early in the nineteenth century. 400 if. and the Catholic Kings.2 In the Indies.
Mexico. a cuartillo. in the decree of January 26.. Both James the Conqueror and Alfonso the Wise attempted to bring into universal use the vara of three Roman feet. I Recopilaci6n de eyes de los reinos de las Indias (Madrid. 1885). apendice. Disertaoionessobre la historic de la RepfzblicaMegicana (4 vols. 1681). iv. first called the vara of Burgos and later known throughout the Hispanic world as the Castilian vara. and a half-cuartillo. Every town was to have a sealer of weights and measures (fiel marcador) whose duties were: to inspect provisions coming into the town. Torrents y Moner. weights: the mark. pp. ix.
' L. ley 44. 18. liquid measures:the Toledo cuartillo (from the standard preservedin Toledo). 24. 119 if. One of the earliest laws on the subject enjoined the use of the Toledo cuartillo and the Castilian vara as fundamental standards. ley 22. tit. but their efforts were nullified by the legislation of Henry II and Alfonso XI. to enforce the use of standard weights and measures. pp.4 The conqueror of Mexico decreed that each town should possess a standard arroba. 1844-49) I. tit. ruled that in all his possessions weights and measures should be adjusted to the following standards: linear measures: the Burgos vara (from the standard kept in Burgos). lib. Other plans for metrological reform were announced by John I.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
a great handicap upon commerce and evoked from time to time serious effort at reform. the Spanish crown appreciated the dangers of allowing the colonists to choose their weights and measures haphazardly. Henry III. 1801. industrial y administrative (Barcelona. restraining anyone from selling provisions except with weights and
2 A. and lib. Henry IV.
The almotacen. 1525). Compendio de los libros capitulares de la muy noble. 40 (March 16.4
measures approved by the inspector. the city often had an inspector of butchers' scales. to certify weights and measures used by merchants. 1889-1916). and. 25 (January 13.8 In addition. 301 (1731). the City of Mexico enacted a law which established the office of inspector of weights and measures contrastte. 206 (July 28. tit. generally. viii.
. inspected weights and measures and also supervised public health and safety. ix. Vol. p.6 It was the duty of the inspector to maintain a workshop in the building occupied by the diputacio6n. Mexico City).Actas de cabildo de la ciudad de M6xico (54 vols. 1525. these officials were selected in the cabildo. 11. lib. I. in January of each year. AMM (Archivo Municipal. I. subject to the collection of specified fees for sealing the measures in local use. 1525). I. Novisima recopilacio'n de las eyes de Espafia. an adjustor of weight marks. ynsigne y muy leal ciudad de Mexico. Recopilaci6n de Indias. 4. but later on the office was leased for a fixed payment. or any other gainful business. ley 3. or fieldcontraste. 11. The first person to hold this post was a certain "silversmith Mendez". making loans. f ol. who also occupied an office in the diputacion. Vol. their common object was to secure uniformity and protect the public from fraud. 277 ("Ordenanzas de fiel de pesos de julio de 1574''). Mexico City had but one sealer of weights and measures. 1525. 1564). Barrio Lorenzot. 1. lib.5 Under municipal ordinances the regidores were to appoint the inspectors of weights and measures (variously designated contrast.Actas de cabildo. Among the viceregal measures the decree of
I.. 1920). leyB1. fol. a public officer of Moorish origin.7 Frequently. to supervise the hygienic conditions of the town and provide public garbage disposal. tit. 1. and he was specifically forbidden to use this place for moneychanging. G. 247 (1574). Ordenanzas de gremios de la Nueva Espwnia (Mexico. On January 13. Generally. op. finally. 59 (1561) and Vol. almotacen.. 8AMM. fol. and. I. cit. Mexico. 27 (January 24. Francisco del Barrio Lorenzot. Estrada.) I. the sealers and inspectors in this period were either silversmiths or ironsmiths. marcador. at other times the number rose to four. Numerous were the dispositions of the viceroy as well as of the municipality respecting weights and measures. where weights and measures could be inspected and sealed. and a sealer of flour weights.
V. 106. May 7." In 1556 the alcalde Bernardino de Albornoz ordered from Spain the following measures: a copper half-faneaa. 1536. that is. . de cabia. 1543: the inspector of weights and measures was instructed to seal measures of one-half arroba. the following resolutions of the cabildo of Mexico City deserve mention: January 12. VI. . amojona'miento y deslinde de las poblaciones . 384 varas for the length. 1545: the inspector of weights and measures was ordered to seal pipas (27?/2 arrobas) of wine." ordered that a measure be constructed "for this city as well as for all of New Spain" and that the standard be preserved in Mexico City. and a caballeria of land. with one piece of wood stacked lengthwise against another.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
March 9. 368. 1567. raduM. "a width of 192 varas of the said measure and double this. and the halffamnega. 205. p. Ordenanzas de tierras y aguas o sea prontuario geomitrico. Antonio de Mendoza..10 Previously. judicial para la designaco6n. IV. the Conde de Falces revalidated these agrarian measures.July 19.
.. 74. 368. Among the municipal regulations. that is. 1844). (Mexico. one azumbre. is important. 155. which was to be sold by the arroba. in 1553. and one-half azumbre for wine and oil. a cabezada measuring 96 by 192 varas. and other measures used in the city. observing that "in this city there exists no measure for measuring land. and in 1559 the municipality adopted as its seal a circular stamp bearing the letters "M" and "O" ("que diga Mexico"). 1554: it was ordered that firewood should be sold in closed measures. VI. "9 On September 19. establecimiento. 107tas -Ibid. 85. The standards imposed were: a vara of three feet and a paso of five feet. As early as 1537 weights were required to be made of iron and stamped with the city's seal. which stand out as the first enactments pointing with any exactness to the procedure for laying out the numerous land grants of the sixteenth century. mensura. III. the city had commanded the sealing of weights and measures with a "new" seal.the celemin. September 15. GalvAn. 1559: all persons owning weights and measures were ordered to present them to public officials for adjustment and sealing. . 114.
10. If approved. XXII. fol. they were to be marked with the municipal seal.'3 After a lapse of half a century metrological legislation appears again in the "Ordinances on Weights. In 1574. the Conde de Monterrey commanded all merchants and other vendors possessing weights and measures to present them for adjustment and marking "with the seal which the inspectors had for this purpose.
. "Estrada. and fixed tariffs for inspecting measures. and for purposes of control retail sales of meat were confined to butcher-shops. "wine measures and a cuartilla and a half-azumbre and a cuartillo and other measures for oil". p. announced penalties for infractions of the law. Nos. op..6
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
ated in bone. 1620. and measures for honey.'4 These ordinances provided inter alia that every merchant without exception should have his weights and measures stamped every four months. VI. tocinerias. a sealed weight of sixteen pounds. 368. and seven pounds. op. as were also all weights made of wood. sealed and certificated. AGN (Archivo General de la Nacion. cit. Inspectors were required to visit all stores thrice yearly and impose fines on anyone using unsealed weights. the statutes gave the fiel marcador authority to supervise the weighing of the meat sold at wholesale in the slaughter-houses. Seals. ordered a new sealing and marking of weights and measures. and scales for a half pound were proscribed. cit.. five. in 1567. a copper mark for bars of money. 253. Mexico). Scales and Measures" promulgated by the viceroy Marques de Guadalcazar in July. and open-air stalls
Tbid. 2-3. Bandos. 195." The decree was intended to apply not only in Mexico City but in all the towns of New Spain. AMM. Vol. 15 de noviembre de 1777"). and two wooden measures of the Avila standard. Ordenanzas. 214.
Vol. p. 189. 277. Estrada. No. and of three and five arrobas.12 The Conde de Falces. "lest the public be cheated. Three years later sealers of weights and measures were instructed to present their master weights and measure for adjustment to the standards brought from Spain. 104 ("Coleeeifn de ordenanzaspara el gobierno de los fieles
repasadores de las carnicerias de M-exico." In order to prevent what were described as numerous frauds upon the public. Weights of one-half.. 2980. 30. 14 Actas de cabildo.
h. a cuartillo and a half-cuartillo for oil.one-sixth.all made of copper and stamped with the municipal seal. one-eighth. a two-arrobaweight. and one-sixty-fourth almud) for seeds-some made of bronze and others of cedar. and scales and that of sealer of varas and measures. with counterweight.. with fractional measuresof one-half and one-quarterarroba. one-quarter.one-eighth. onethird. of a bronze cantara of one-half arroba for wine and a quarterg. one-tenth. i. grooved to measure one-half. Two distinct offices. one-quarter. one hundred pesos for the second. stamped with the city's coat-of-arms. a standard bronze vara. 1. with fractional weights of one. and onesixteenth vara. The fees they were permitted to collect varied from
. j. with balance. All sellers of dry goods at retail were prohibited from measuring goods with a vara notched on the counter. marks. c. they were also enjoined from using the half-vara. a cordel and one. one-half.for thirty-two celemines. f.e. a graduatedscale. The sealer of weights and measures kept in his possession copies of the standards preserved in the city hall and at the end of his term of office surrendered them to his successor. a bronze cantara of one arroba for honey. that of sealer (fiel contrast or fiel marcawdor) of weights. arroba. and quarter-cuarttllo.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
tablass). k. a cross-netweight with a balance.one-sixteenth. and one-quarterarroba. d. and loss of the tight to do business after the third offense. b. a scale. The penalty for using any measure not conforming with the standard municipal measures was fifty pesos for the first offense. a standard cuartillo.onethirty-second. though their respective areas of jurisdiction are not precisely defined. are mentioned in the ordinances of 1620. By this time the City of Mexico preserved in its archives the following standard measures: a. graduated and stamped with the seal and coat-of-arms the city. one-half. a cross-barweight. e. a set of balances and weights for weighing gold in cuartillas. half-cuarttllo. a standard half-fanega with related measures (i.
31. iron or other metal: one-half real silver for four to eight marks. Even when merchants submitted their weights and measures for sealing. 11. fol. exp. two reales for twenty-six to one hundred marks. 1079. varas. Besides the normal perquisites of the office. it was worth 1. but in the early seventeenth century typical charges were: for marking a counterweight or weight of bronze. and the stipulation that varas should be inspected every year and weights and scales tested every six months. the inspector could impose fines and act as a judge in controversies over the regulations on weights and measures. 1777). Vol. No. abuses. Another feeble effort was made in 1667. 21. p. and even the "Ordinances for the Magistracy of the Sealer of Weights
l5Estrada. 3. 22. when the ordinances of 1620 were reinforced by the absolute prohibition of the use of unsealed measures and scales in any type of business and by the requirements that all weights. 10. fols. No. cit. 9. The office of inspector of weights and measures in Mexico City sold for six hundred pesos a year around 1620. Bandos.. The materials used for the present study afford abundant evidence that the ordinances of 1620 did not succeed in wiping out fraud. fols. Vol. 2. 249.15 Though the ordinances of 1620 were confirmed the following year. Fiel contraste. the authorization of the five-arroba weight (deemed necessary to trade). AMM. It thus appears that the year 1620 was only a faltering step in the direction of achieving a uniform system of weights and measures in New Spain. measures. 114 (November 11. Bandos. fol. 16 AGN. Vol. one real for nine to twenty-five marks. such as the requirement that the half-fanega measure should have tincovered edges. AGN. Vol. op. and four reales for over one hundred marks.8
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
time to time. 33. and disputes over the quantities of goods bought and sold in the market place. 277."6 The ordinances promulgated in 1787 added little to the metrological legislation in effect except to establish a new schedule of fees for sealing weights and measures. significant changes were introduced. 133-140. later.100 pesos or more. and scales be officially sealed every four months. they frequently employed unapproved and unsealed measures in dayto-day trade.
AMM. while Mexico sealed its weights and measures with "MO" or "Me.20 In retail trade. 59-61. sold by
the measured vara" which. Y los Brocados y se asi se han de medir un dedo dentro de la orilla.17 The laudable objective of metrological legislation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was to enforce the use of uniform. Puebla. Puebla de los Angeles: La orden. Diceionario razonado de legislaci6n (Paris. leg. publicly sealed weights and measures throughout New Spain. poniendo la vara encima del pafno un palmo debaxo del lomo y senalando con un jub6n u otra cosa cada una vara y de la misma manera se ha de vender frisas. if not difficult to put into practice then. p.'8 How far the goal of standardization was separated from reality can perhaps best be illustrated by the complaint raised in 1831 that "the same diversity as always persists. producing inconveniences. injuries. and Ordenanzas. and lawsuits in business. legs. 1830)." (Estrada. and real de minas was supposed to have standard weights and measures. sellers clung to a preference for measures of anthronologicia1
forida '7MSemnoriaeconomica de la municipalidad de Meo. Fiel contrast. 503. op. Fiel contraste. 24. Thus. perhaps. 19-J. Thus. Cit. 1831). ni lo tirar. alfombra ni panlos que este sobre ella.).THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
and Measures" published in 1798 followed in all important respects the law of 1620. the ordinances of the drapers' guild specified a procedure in
"selling cloth. leg.d. Vol. de los Rios Arce. see also. 1. 1080. Every city.)
. 133. linens. "en cada caso ha de llevar mas de una pulgada al traves. dominicana (2 vols. de orden del Exemo. 55-56. Ayuntamiento por una comision de su seno (Mexico. . each of which jealously guarded its privileges and peculiar business practices."19 One of the reasons for the inobservance of the laws on weights and measures may be found in the prerogatives of the guilds.. woolens. copied from the models preserved in Mexico City. 64.. p. 58-59. Having made copies of the standards kept in the viceregal capital. 1080. and Vol. dissensions. AMM. within the same town. una mano dentro de la orilla. 2980. pp. and other goods . town. y se ha de medir por esquina tendida sobre talla sin targeta. has now an air of unreality. 2983. 18 F. Vol. Vol. especially. . 20 The guild ordered that. I. the local government was allowed to seal them with its own mark." Puebla sealed with a Greek "alpha" and other towns used different devices. not only in the different provinces but also in different partidos or districts of the same province and even. Scriche. n.
0175 .. Fernandz Instrubecion mnal (Santiago..22 The Mexican league at the beginning of the colonial period seems to have been equal to 4. based on the old vara of Toledo... in documents of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries land titles are described in terms of a Mexican league divided into marcas. 2 varas....99 inches 16.60 miles 9... pp. .... A.000 ... 4.0174 meter...15 yards 1.2218 . ..d..50 inches 10..... or Solomon's pace... the basic unit of which was the ordinary... ...... estado. Table I introduces the linear measures. op. vara. dedo..0233 .21 It is now possible to summarize the standards legally effective toward the end of the colonial period and to examine some specific departures from these standards. pp.......
.. 12 lineas... pp..... Diccio'nrrio de pesos y nwdidas (Cuernavaca....or .....67 2 varas. 12 pulgadas. pint.S........076 inches
Another subdivision of the Mexican vara. 1-19.. C...........
TABLE I.. 22 GalvAn.83 yards 1....... or 4 palmos ... 12 dedos.. 9 pulgadas.... or palmo romano palmo. of forty-eight dedos of ..97 inches 8. hand... n.. and sack are encountered frequently...838 pies......10
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
origin. In foreign commerce and in the contraband trade foreign weights and measures crept in.0019
Equivalent 2...8359 meter...000 pasos de Salomo'n. foot.. 157....209 .. pulgada. vara. or Mexican.23 inches .5.. 177.279 16 dedos.. It was referred to as the old vara. linea...... Robelo....... LINEAR MEASURES
legua.. 50-53.....179 meters.. 9 lineas.83 yards 32.....l. such as finger.. or 3. 1. derived from the Burgos vara as has been explained.3 codo.. and such units as the English gallon..... cit... pie... each mark
2:1 breve y sencilla sobre el sistema mrtrioo deciM.
Meters varas.418 Y2vara... cordel braza.. 12puntos.. was used by surveyors and miners..73 inches 8...38 10 varas.916 inches . and arm. bushel.690 inches .... Commonly...67 1.. palmo mayor. 1908).190 8. This vara was equivalent to .....).. .
.. 2a Galvdn. (February 20." also referred to the discrepancy in length along two edges of a piece of cloth. yards
square vara. there was a wide linea equivalent to 27/8 varas.
... later on.26 The basic measure of area was the square vara. the cuerda.. inch
V.and pierna.. feet
.. 2 "'Relacion de la ciudad de Merida.. use was
made of a palmo menor of four dedos.0775 .. 11. the estadat
TABLE II......37 sq. cordel . Bordazar y Artazu.. 81 sq.. originally the mean stature of a man.g.. 144 sq.. pulgadas squarepalmo. the pancle.25 Besides the narrow linea (.96
144 sq.. 1537).. a dedo divided into three pajas and four granos.. the apantle. op...0111 . cit. 40...0068 sq.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
being equal to 27/8varas. Proposici6n de monedas. The quarter pace (paso de cuadra) was a commonmeasure for urban building sites. MEASURES OF AREA
SquareMeters acre.. . a cordel of fifty Mexican varas was employed in laying out plots of land and a cordel of sixty-nine varas applied to the measurement of caballerias of land. 1864-1884).
.. square pulgada.. ....468 ares .56 sq. de Indias (42 vols.. each side of a lot measuring 141 feet (i.. Madrid.0019 meter). 168 ff.24 the jeme (. 329 (February 20. the Spanish cordel. 1736)... 1.. . p..296 sq.033 sq. 68. Other measures of Spanish or Indian origin. yards .. 71 ff. the 'hera...
1543).. 69 paces of two feet and one of three) or. ...70
Equivalent 45.0188 sq.0437 .. used in an indeterminate fashion for length as well as capacity.83 sq.30 sq. inch .... yards 22. came to be considered as seven feet (2'/3 varas) when used in measuring depth and altitude. 150 feet. The estado..
Actas de cabildo. yards . pesos y wedidas (Valencia. lineas squarelinea . IV." in Colecci6n de documentos Wneditos .18 6. pulgadas squarepie.. vaguely defined as "four quarters wide and four quarters long... and the mano. used in measuring land. e. XIII.e. The braza was a measure of cloth in Yucata'n... pp.139 me-
. 96 if...23 Besides the linear measures described in Table I.8393 sq. feet 13... estadal. and in addition to the cordel of ten varas (used principally in measuring the criadero)..
but there existed other measures in common use....... one hundred pieces weighing about 125 grams) for garlic. numerous customary measures. or 4. the ristra and the mancuerna (i.. the canasta and the jiquipil for corn on the cob.7 cubic meters. Vol. A cubic brazada was employed in measuring building materials and paving projects.152 cu.. the bulto was used for beans and wood. cubic palmo..12
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
(about 11.. 281 if.
cubic vara ...
...e. the cacaxtie. each of four trozos) for firewood..... yd. 1.4... It was equivalent to about eight cubic varas. fol...27 There were..56 cu.768 cu..00037 . and the paxtle for fruits and sugar.. Barrio Lorenzot.
The basic unit of volume was the cubic vara.. in addition.. the atado (about thirty-eight kilos).. 27 cubic pies . in...... in... ft.707
164. 8 cubic varas. one foot may be regarded as the theoretical equivalent of the raja.. and the acre. the cajon. and the manojo for ixtle and henequen.. the haz for wheat and sugar cane. the huacal.997 cu..
.. . 729 cubic pulgadas. whose equivalents are practically impossible to establish. . the madeja (about sixty-two kilos).2 square meters). in. . and the racimo (sixty pieces) for bananas.
cubic brazada. and the gruesa (144 to 150 pieces) for fruits and vegetables.441 cu..21796 . 1.1 cu...... The zontle of 400 rajas (or pedazos) still persists among the Indians who peddle charcoal and firewood.. .01059
... but the records in which they occur suggest that they were subject to extraordinary variation in practice and never fixed in relation to the standard units.. the burrada for firewood and sugar. such as the estereo (roughly a cubic meter) for lumber and the zontle (100 manos..728 cubic pulgadas...000073
. the tercio. the gajo (eleven pieces). cubic pulgada. 557.... ft. the saca... were frequently employed in commerce and agriculture...
cubic linea .
TABLE III. the cadejo (twelve pieces).. the botijuela (about
AMM. the dura for chickpeas. 3... Thus...
... and the tequio for charcoal and wood.... op..58848 . cit.. cubic pie.. the cuerda.
. 11... Changes in the law in 1765 and in 1778 attempted to reconcile some of the discrepancies between weight and bulk in measuring the capacity of ships in the carrera de Indias.025 quintal..0013
.. The carga of twelve arrobas was used in measuring lime and gravel... and other liquids. or about eight cubic codos.6
138. ix. ..e..... i. Memorias hist6ricas sobre la legislacion y gobierno del comeroo de los espafioles en sus colonias de las Indias ocoidentales (Madrid... ..4 101... Antuinez y Acevedo..3275
228... lib. In the commerce between Spain and America the measured tonelada was the basis for levying tariffs...00011
ten kilos) for honey...... was the space occupied by three pipas (originally pipas de vino) of 27?/2 arrobas each.. . 12 granos......
... .0633 .....
carretada . as did five botijas of wine... 46..... The tonel macho.015
181..... libra. R.5 25.... .. tonel macho. tonelada .0039 .
. a carqa of fourteen arrobas
28 Jecopilkci6n de Indias.
fTounds Avoirdupois 3040 2204... ten sacks of chinaware made a tonelada..... .or
3 pipas .. 103.. or cargo space... ... the valuation (aforaminteo) for tax purpose depended upon fixed ratios between the measures employed for different classes of merchandise and the tonelada de buque.. 5 arrobas..506 arroba .
Kilos 10 cargas 1380.02876 .6
onza... 164-169.0018 .08 arrobas . 1000.. 86..... and the botija (varying from five to eight liters) for wine...36 1.
carga . ley 1..... ..5 100 libras... 1797).00005
. 3 tomines....
16 adarmes. . .. 25 libras. ... pp.2
. . adarme tomin. 31.. carga (for grain)..46025 16onzas. also known as a tonelada.. as explained in the ordinances of the House of Trade.28 The carga had various meanings depending upon the commodity or the region... tit..
libra romana .THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
TABLEIV. 82. Thus.
sugar. 1538). made of bronze and engraved on the outer surface with the dates "1724-1725. and Mexico. which is still in possession of the Department of Weights and Measures in Mexico. 143 (August 16 and 23..16... 1557) and 323 (April 4..... cuartillo.29
TABLE V.5 115.. LIQUID MEASURES
pipa. 1550)... Valladolid.. .... 223. 1547) and 304 (August 25. AMM.. V.22 2 medios.
Liters 456... sand. No... 2983. ..
.. . "Sistema metrico decimal: Tablas de Medidas.." fective in that the rim will not lie on a single plane.. IV... a carga of honey meant eighteen arrobas in Oaxaca. Ordenanzas. Gallons 120.. holds ... VIII.... lime. 1558). before shipment to Spain. and lime. 8. 1546) and 188 (September 12. 1574). and a few other commodities...)
. 117 (July 12. and balanza were customary units of weight for meat. or .0
20.26 3. . ." doubtless the period in which they were made and adjusted to standard..32 2.. The 21/2-cuartiflo measure was used for all liquids except oil. 22. 135 (April 15... Cochineal was weighed. made of tin but very well preserved. (b) A cuartillo for oil.. It is engraved with the emblem of the city and has the inscription " 99" (which probably means It is de1799) and the words "Padron de la Ciudad de Mexico de Aceite... 294 (July 20...... The carretada of ten cargas (120 arrobas) was roughly the same as the varreta and the guallin... Romana..30
29 Actas de cabildo.. It was originally intended to be the equivalent in weight of one pound...... 80 The following measures are still preserved in Mexico City: (a) liquid measures of 21/2 cuartillos....5062 liters...228
4....456 4 cuartos . medio.. and the paila weighed copper and other metals..17 .. VI...... One of the measures has several dents in it and the edges are nicked and unequal. The standard cuartillo for olive oil.
6 barriles .56 18 cuartillos.. and a carga of grain was usually sixteen arrobas. 435.456 liters of water. S... X .12 . Vol.. all being measures for gravel.. wood.06
The basic standard was the cuartillo." Boletin de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia y Estadistica... flour. botija
. in cargas of nine arrobas each.....1
cantara (oil) cantara (other liquids) jarra.14
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
was a common measure of sand. garabato.14 .. (Cf..12.
64 dry qts. Thus. 1. on estates in the neighborhood of C6rdoba...88 dry qts.141iters was known as the cantara de Avila. the barrel was considered equivalent to ten jarras. cuartillo .24 liters)..568
U... tepache.. each of sixteen cuartillos.....892
96 cuartillos.. 12 cuartillos ... IV.... a garrafo'n (seventeen to twenty-five liters) and a chochocol for brandy. Other measures suffered variations from time to time. regional differences cloud the view of actual practice.......
carga. 1538). but in practice the fanega and the media fa'naga were
VI.15 bushels 2.. for instance.. ... .THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
In practice.. arrobas and botijas used for all commodities. but the azumbre of milk was 11/2 azumbres of wine and the cuartill. chinguirito. 129 (April 11. sesame..
. or it was 81/2 jarras of eighteen cuartillos each. it is difficult to discover the equivalent of the jarras. The quelli for pulque and other native drinks was fifteen liters in Oaxaca but only 13.... and quelli for pulque.. charade de pinia and other beverages. By force of custom milk was sold by azumbre or cuartillo. cacao. but because of their varying density.
31Actas de cabildo.. Equivalent 5.72 dry qts. Sixteen cantaras made a mojo (270.. a gallon (3?/2 to five liters) and a damcrajuana (seventeen to twenty liters) were used for alcohol.. Jalapa and Coatepec the barrel of brandy (at 280) was regarded as 160 cuartillos instead of the more usual capacity of 150 cuartillos. The carga was a standard weight as well as an arid measure... Furthermore... fanega. 6. as was also the measure known as garrafa.. it was divided into eight azumbres of four cuartillos each. and yarn were sold by measure. 4 cuartillos..630 90. almud..815 22..
Liters 181... cuartilla ..850 liters in Tehuantepec and the region of Puebla. honey.. The cantara of 16.1. castellana.. S. 1? winee cuartillos...31 Olives.58 bushels 20. Orizaba. Various other measures used for liquids throughout New Spain may be mentioned: the damazana for wine was about twenty liters. 48 cuartillos.704 7.. the cadntaro.
or the costal. the petaca of chickpeas. the paca for raw cotton. was regarded by the farming classes as a land measure equivalent to a rectangle 184 by 276 varas (3. and other fairly common measures of seeds. As a measure the fanega was half a carga. cuarteron. while the celemin (like the almud) was one-twelfth of a fanega. and the anomaly of multiple standards throughout colonial New Spain finds its reflection in the continued use of unapproved measures. But it is virtually impossible to give even approximate equivalents of such measures as the jicara-the hard wooden basket for vending fruit-the bola of fruit. Numerous were the other colonial measures in use at one time or another: the zurrodnfor wheat was about one hundred pounds. various localities continued to employ fanega measures copied from the measures employed in trade in Bilbao. with each colonial group adhering to one or another the so-called standards brought in from Spain. Despite categorical rulings that the basic measure in use should be the Avila media fanega. pancle. the chiquihuite of fruit was 230 pieces and the balde. a sarta of chile or coffee was anything from two to four kilos. the tambache of bananas was twenty-five kilos. sand. and in the trade in
. the manojo and pantle for fruits and vegetables. about one hundred pounds. the bulto. or straw. hospitals. paca. apothecary shops. The ounce was the basic standard of the measures used in pharmacies. Oviedo. equal to 12 fanegas. but diversity persisted. the mazo of sugar was a kilo and the mano. and occasionally grains. maquila. seventeen to twenty kilos. or fanega de sembradura. two to 21/2 kilos. and other places. tercio. It is enough to recall the rivalries and animosities which divided the commercial classes in different regions of Spain in order to appreciate the confusing variety of metrological practice which developed in the colonies. saco. lime. but the fanega. mogote. A fairly common arid measure was the cahiz. conforming to the standard measure kept in Mexico City. bracina of charcoal. wood. Malaga.57 hectares). The cabildos tried to cope with the problem by imposing fines and requiring frequent inspection of weights and measures.16
more often used.
. stalks..... onza.40 .765 1...
8 dracmas ..92 ...... Fiel contrast. and the ochavo contained seventy-five grains.....116 ..............32 Herbalists and ambulatory vendors of the variegated products of the Mexican pharmacopoeia were wont to sell by count.180 3............
...116 . divisible in several ways depending upon the metal.595 1. grano.....765
Vol. leaves..e.. i.058 . ochavo...049
Troy ounces 7.198
....... Aritm6tica practice y especulativa
(n. where procedures were strictly prescribed in the Ordenanzas de la Mineria... The use of scale beams (romanas) was prohibited.........
189....... and by numerous dispositions ef32'J.
onza .. .... fourteen adarmes and four grains.........) pp. the grano was an imaginary measure equal to the twelfth part of a tomin...0016
medicinal preparations...THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN TABLE VII.. the others..33
TABLE VIII.... No. the mark was equivalent to eight ounces....... n.... forty of which weighed twelve adarrmes and sixteen grains.019 .595 adarme 3 tomines.p.. drama ... 2 adarmes ... For tobacco..
12onzas............ and the tomin was twelve grains.. 8 ochavos.... tomin. 53. or cuttings.
............ 1080..... For gold the mark was divided into fifty castellanos...059
Troyounces 11. .. each of eight tomines.28...... (Besides being a weight..... escrulpulo grano.. 8 onzas..039 . so many roots...599
. 20 granos... 104..... each onza was divided into eighths (ochavos)........20 28. 925
3 escru'pulos.. These were the standards employed in the reales de minas and at the mints....798 .0016
The basic unit was the mark..) For silver....097
. the cabildo of Mexico furnished (though it is not clear how they were used) eighty one-ounce weights. MONETARY WEIGHTS
marco..3.. Perez de Moya..... APOTHECARY MEASURES
. but the Dutch standard tended to prevail since Amsterdam was the chief center of trade in jewels and precious stones. The basic measure was the buey (derived from the size of an ox). Bandos.25 2.
Liters per Minute U... The naranja was an orifice of two by eight dedos. " J.1997 grams. S. or about 648 liters a day. 56 qts.. equivalent to eighteen vaias.475 qts. "Geometria praictica y mecanica dividida en tres tratados. 5-10.. pp...4 qts.. 2. fol. limon. Hydraulic measures were extremely necessary to regularize the practice of taking water for irrigation purposes and measuring stream flow for water wheels and other agrarian and industrial uses. 1903). or real de agua. was also commonly emnloved in meas34 AGN..80 naranja . fol. the quilate was most often 3.. 465..20 2..36 The iminn.. No. Saenz de Escobar.9 gal. it produced one cuartillo per minute. 172 ("Reales ordenanzas para la direccion y gobierno del iniportante cuerpo de la mineria de Nueva Espalia y de su Real Tribunal.34 For weighing precious stones the only rule was anarchy.. . . 255-279.10 merced. pp. surco. pp... Elementos de aritmrtica mercantil (Santiago." MS in AMN (Archivo del Museo Nacional).40 205.296 square pulgadas...... 1. 9. but in New Spain. cit. 51.5 qts. or real 8. 64.38 qts.... Equivalent buey. pp. 1783''). 9 square pulgadas 68. Memorandum te6rico practice (Mexico... 1-22.. . 1895)..35 The surco (sometimes sulco) was the trench left by the plow for water to run in. 35-58...2058 grams)... Robelo... cit.296 pulgadas square..876 grains (...831. Andres Oscoy. Vol... Vol.. 65.. The carat (quilate) differed from country to country. Pablo Argumosa.. Spain recognized a quilate of . 27 square pulgadas.
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
forts were made to prevent short-weighing and preserve the fineness of the coins. .. reckoned at six dedos at the base and eight dedos deep. 45 . 12. conceived as a rectangular opening 1. op. paja. The paja was the most common standard for distributing water on urban sites or through public water supply.8. apparently..596. 194. 35 Galvan.
376 x 4.. p.... although reckoned at three thousand pasos de Salomon square at one time. MEASURES FOR PAPER
balon. a hydraulic survey (reconocimiento.. 5.. Trab6. Compendio de mnatemsticas puras y mixtas (3rd ed. 265. or tenant.500 438.90 1.0 criaderode ganadomenor.. ..75 cuartillade sembradura 100 250 x .. solar para molino. an award of water (repartimiento) was then stated in terms of bueyes. . Contreras...... op. GalvAn.86 o venta ...12 fundo legal. 20 manos.928...084..76 caballeria . cit. 70.7 195.000 x25...0 criaderode ganadomayor..778.
TABLE XI.51 solar.22 1. 552 1. 1845). or naranjas.
TABLE X.. p..000 1.. was entitled to receive. 1.. passim..... Vallejo. 2. 1. J.000 500 5
Parchment was counted in terms of the embotijado of eight dozens. Mexico. 177. M. ..79 105. M..338.....57 fanega de sembradura..0 sitiodeganadomayor .. 20 resmas....THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
uring water taken from public fountains..333.333.500 x 2. 1.. 3.755..35 ..000 x 5.000 x 1.. fol....666. 1839)... 50 50 x As Table XI indicates.. .27 1. op..05 21.......000 42.. or some other standard measure. cit..
.200 x 1..200 159.. inspeccio'n. Saenz de Escobar.. 1908)..39 1...81 184 3. or one league by five leagues.07 243.. M.77 101. AGRARIAN LAND MEASURES37
Acres Dimensionsin varas Hectares hacienda .25 . 14 ff.....61 4... pp..104 x 8... was customarily
3 M.000 square varas. In determining the amount of water a property owner...2 sitio de ganadomenor . 5....... casa ..3 780.70 100 x 100 estajo ..3 x 3...000 8. The cattle range (sitio de ganado mayor).. inquisicion) was conducted.
Sheets 10.690. Nouv'eau ma'nuel des poids et mesures (Paris. the hacienda was an area of 125. Elementos de arithmetic razonada (18th ed. 78.7 x 1.5 864.666..
...72 . mano cuaderno... resma...
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
an area of 25.408
square varas) was divided into four suertes of land and also into twelve fanegas castellanas de sembradura de maiz. B. . 61. 12. lib. . tierra de pasto para cincuenta puercas de vientre. Belefia y Miguel de Montemayor. op. op. 12. "I E. en quadra de linde a line. cit. 207. una caballeria es solar de cien pasos de ancho y doscientos de largo. "Tratado de agrimensura. 56-58).42
S8 A general decree provided.41 The following are among the numerous dispositions relating to the caballeria: ... 1. "Tratado de agrimensura. AMN. but this left many irregular chunks of land whose boundaries were difficult to determine and the scheme was abandoned in favor of rectilinear parcels. que el nuimeropara tierra sea y de por cabezadas. Barrio Lorenzot.. early land ordinances and municipal statutes define this sitio de ganado mayor as an area in the form of a circle. 41 Galvan. See also the data on agrarian measurements in the manuscript "Tratado de agrimensura" (AMN. each fanega being 50. 211-212.
The caballeri'a de tierra (609.. op. " Que las estancias de ganado mayor tengan tres mil pasos de marea de a cinco tercias a vara cada paso. the criadero de ganado menor. cit. op. Sa'enz de Escobar. op. Il. cien vacas. y de todo lo demais comocinco peonias. que son 384 varas de dicha medida." fol.784 square varas." fols. lib. AMN.. . 3. later it became fixed at ten thousand square varas. 5. cuarentapara plantas de otros arboles de secadal. fols. tit..000 square varas. Recopilacion de Indias. op.). 84. 39. Saenz de Escobar. que seran quinientas fanegas de labor para pan de trigo o cebada. cit. Vol. fol. fol.96 varas de dicha medida y por el largo dobladas las varas. 40 Galvan. cit. 106. cit. que son 192 de la propia medida. cincuenta de maiz. quinientas ovejas y cien cabras. "Tratado de agrimensura. The criadero de ganado mayor was one fourth of the sitio. AMN. . . cit. ley 1.39 The sheep ranch (sitio de ganado menor) was originally a square measuring two thousand pasos de Salomon on each side. pp. iv. 161-164. se ha de medir 192 varas de dicha medida por cabezada. 1787). Mexico. op. 3-7. 209. Vol. 465. iv. fols. Recopilaci6n sumaria de los autos wcordados de la Real Audiencia y Sala del Crimien de esta N ueva Espania (3 vols. 4. 161-162. cit. y porque se entienda lo que es una caballeria entera de tierra. 155.. veinte yeguas. 78 ff. one fourth of the
sitio de ganado
menor. fol. ley 1.38 Curiously. 105-107. 42 Galvan.. diez huebrasde tierra para huertas. 164. la suerte de tierra (1/2 parte de caballeria) tenga 92 varas de cabezaday 192 de larzo y la vara sea de 3 pies nenos un ochavo. y doble por lo largo." fols. o mil y quinientos a cada parte del asiento de la casa" (Saenz de Escobar. AMM. . . tit.. Recopilacion de Indias.
106. IV. raising corn.
. Finally. II. pp. lecopilaci6a de Indias. lib. 12.086 for a garden. lib. 1. The peonia de tierra (fifty feet wide and one hundred feet long) was the share given to the foot soldier. 1914). A royal decree covering the subject commanded that soldiers. 129. L.. 692.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
The peonia and the caballeria were derived from the practice of dividing the land as booty among the conquering soldiers according to their rank and position. de Ultramar. 4"Becopitaci6n de Indias. E7 problena agrario en M6xico (Mexico. tit. Galva'n. AMM. Luis Orozeo. Colecci5n de documentos ineditos . op. the caballeria. the cavalryman's lot. Mendieta y Nuiiiez. leyes 12. p. "Tratado de agrimensura. lib vi. AMN. 167-169. tit. .. or peones. iv. 3. cit. op. 180. La organizaci6n de la Repiiblica. tit. W. 1. ley 20. iv. Ordenanzas. 58 ff.45
Belefia. 18. 12.44 There remain enormous difficulties in estimating the area of the land granted under encomienda or other rights.. Manuel Payno asserts that no Spaniard received less than a peonta or a caballeria of land." fol. op. 12. ceded in the form of a sitio or criadero de ganado.. 84-85. 171. 1513. cit. ley 1. I (Mexico. and only a few points were elucidated by the statutes of 1574 and 1580. 7. op. Galvan. . cit. cit. since these are the measures specified in the law of June 18. 18. leyes 12. 44Recopilacion de Indias. fols. tit.. The additions made by Gaston de Peralta in 1567 failed to clarify the methods of measuring land and the units to be employed. lib. 1937). relating to the distribution of land among the conquistadores. 192-193.856 for. 206-212. XVI. Galvan. Barrio de Lorenzot. in 1589.408 square varas of arable land. apparently. be given "680 square varas for building a house. Lucio Mendieta y Nuifiez believes that the minimum grant was 609. they were inadequate and led to great irregularities in the distribution and appropriation of landed estates. and 18.536 for sowing European grains. Viceroy Manrique established the Burgos vara as the standard of length and codified the existing ordinances of land measurement in such a fashion that they furnished a working basis for many years. iv. pp. Vol. "43 The land ordinances issued by Viceroy Mendoza in 1536 are only partially preserved within the laws of the Indies. pp. 45 Actas de Cabildo. 21-79. however.
pp. but in 1567 the Indian village was described as a plot measuring 500 varas square and in 1657 it was increased to 600 varas square. 47 Galvan. 48 Recopilaci6' de Indias. tierras y montes. y labranzas.22
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
The numerous alterations in agrarian and land measures during the colonial period had effects whose baneful influence may be discovered in certain aspects of the "agrarian problem.000 square varas) was the unit established by many royal orders and municipal statutes for laying out the indigenous village. entendiendoseesto desde la iglesia de ellos.444. 4"'Recopilaci6n cit. y Redueciones. leys 12. Chalco. however. The royal cedula of June 4. 169-170. on the occasion of the suit of Captain Agustin Nu'nfezde Sandoval against the Indians of Coatepec. 192-193. iv. but they were more often than not honored in the breach. the fumdo legal (1. pp. Thus."
.46 Finally. p. op.se cuenten desde el centro de los pueblos. y no desde la ul1tima casa. 44. ley 8: "Los sitios en que se han de formar Pueblos. cit. GalvAn. or considerably more than a square league. 58 ff. 12. cit. tit. donde los Indios puedan tener sus ganados. There were standards applicable to the lands of the Indians.. vi. tengan comodidad de aguas.47 The laws of the Indies include a disposition48 which im.. tit. 1687 (confirming those of 1567 and 1657) grants ejidal lands in a basic unit of six hundred square varas. lib. leyes 12. iv. 197. sin que se revuelvan con otros de Espanioles. y un exido de una legua de largo.. 18. op.. 18. tit. p. the actual assignment of Ianids for the Indian corde Indias.plies an official intention to give the ejido an extension of one square league. op. que se han de contar del propio modo. op. and other inhabitants of land adjacent to the captain's property it was ruled that. Mendieta y Nuifiez. without however setting a maximum size. Uncertainty of the meaning of these measures made it difficult to determine boundaries and provoked controversies and abuses. y que lo mismose practique en cuanto a la distancia de las mil y dien varas que ha de haber desde el pueblo a las estancias. Orozco. Usually. cit.. 3.. permitting large landholders to lord it over the small and especially to encroach upon the property of the native village (the ejido). lib. lib." the rallying point of the Mexican revolution of 1911. entradas y salidas. 12. se entienda que la distancia de las seiscientas varas ha de haber de por medio de las tierras y sementerasde los indios de esa jurisdicid6n a las de los labradores. Recopilacion de Indias.
and the Philippines "imported" their own local standards. because of the permanent nature of the disposition of land occupied under the authority of the colonial government. roughly kilos. Peru. 8. which also delimited the lands held under lease for public benefit (i.2 to 460. The tancal of porcelain seems to have been equivalent to sixty kilos.18 kilos).. Mexico.. and 40-46. The pico of pepper or storax gum was about 63. Furthermore. Subdivisions. whose capacity remains a mystery. However vital it may have been to determine accurately the pertinent agrarian measures.e.
. the propios). 1876-1910). saquiZllo. Thus. Legislaci6n mexicana (40 vols. See. AGN. about eighty-nine kilos. 5-7.saca. and weighed about 15. The marquceta was a more or less standard weight for wax. the quality of land was taken into consideration in making the grants.THE EVOLUTION OF WEIGHTS AND MEASURES IN NEW SPAIN
munity was made under the direction of the municipality. " Especially in the records of the Philippine commerce one finds a variety of weights and measures whose equivalents can only be approximated. Black land (tierras de negro) was superior arable land.2 kilos. the fardo for tobacco consisted of forty manos. 19. Filipinas.3 kilos. a further complication emerges in the case of the port towns.3 kilos). or linen bags. DublAn y Lozano. it must be recognized that most if not all of the standards varied from region to region and often within the same jurisdiction. and it is not difficult to imagine how widely practice departed from any given standard of land measurement. the various considerations which influenced the agrarian partitions in colonial times tended to remain constant factors in the demarcation of estates until very recent times. But on the question of the escribania. four hundred manojos. a second grade of land not requiring irrigation was known as tierras de cojer. cit. 23.. for example. 192-195. pp. The balsa for crystal and porcelain weighed from eight to ten quintals (368. The caj6n of cloth and other dry-goods was a unit of measure. Vols. op. and land fit for truck gardening (tierras de panllevar) formed a third class. 24. or pan de cera-. M. bayfl. I. cajon tosco-all common units of measure in the overseas trade-it is impossible to say anything worth while. therefore. 157. petaca. the tercerola. 39. or four thousand hojas. As one reviews the problem of weights and measures in general. approximating 18 arrobas (207. Spices were also frequently measured in churlos.49 As a general rule. varied in size with reference to the character of the soil and were not wholly determined by the legal prescriptions of area and measurement.50 It
Galvan. where ships and traders from Cuba.
have up to the present time obstructed the universal practice of selling by meter. or linear measures and hydraulic measures. or with no system at all.
. The evolution of weights and measures in New Spain brought a little order out of chaos. it is scarcely too much to say that somewhere in the country most of these weights and measures still find employment. Completely lacking was any unifying element -or common denominator-for measures of volume and weight. perhaps. The numerous ordinances on weights. but the degree to which confusion was compounded may be appreciated by reference to some 250 weights and measures then in use domestically. From colonial times until late in the national period it is foolhardy to speak of a metrological system. somewhat reduce the anarchy which prevailed in the market places. it never gave the colony a metrological system. but centuries of experience with other systems. measures of length divided into twelfths. Indeed.24
THE HISPANIC AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
would be difficult enough to reconcile these "foreign" units with those of New Spain if the latter had really been standardized. liter. or measures to the cubic unit. but the confusion of weights and measures described in this paper casts doubt upon the accuracy if not the practicality of the system inaugurated in 1720. One source of difficulty was the lack of simplicity in weights and measures which the authorities tried to implant-for instance. arid measures divided into halves and thirds. kilo. and upon each of these was erected a most illogical structure of multiple and fractional weights and measures. weights. properly speaking. and their related and precisely defined units. after converting counts. and measures did. but. The Real proyecto de comercio of 1720 established rules for the payment of customs dues at certain rates per cubic palmo. The metric system was officially introduced in 1867. but still an irreconcilable variety of practice persisted. Not one but several measures were adopted as standard.