Barcelona, a manufacturing centre of weighing scales / 1

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Albert Estrada-Rius
Serafí Tarradell and his wife in front of their establishment at 19, Plaça de la Llana. Barcelona, early 20th century. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.
Serafí Tarradell and his wife in front of their establishment at 19, Plaça de la Llana. Barcelona, early 20th century. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.

From a family memory to the public heritage, the example of the Tarradell weighing scale manufacturing company

Part of the historical material from the old Tarradell weighing scale workshop has recently entered the museum. It is a donation offered by sisters Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font in memory of their father, the archaeologist Miquel Tarradell i Mateu (1920-1995). This year sees the celebration of the centenary of his birth and the 25th anniversary of his death. The University of Barcelona and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans are also preparing to mark this anniversary with several events in memory of the academic.

The material is very varied, and all of it is associated with the origins of the family workshop and shop. The Tarradell family entered the weighing scale business in 1892 when Serafí Tarradell, initially with another partner, purchased the well-known Farriols workshop in Barcelona from the firm’s last heiress. The establishment, dating back to the last quarter of the 18th century, was continued by the Tarradell family, adapting it to the needs of the market, until the last quarter of the 20th century, when it closed down. A testimony of that desire for continuity is the fact that the Tarradell family always regarded 1766 as the year the establishment was founded.

Manual, handwritten by the locksmith Josep Farriols, Barcelona, 1779. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font
Manual, handwritten by the locksmith Josep Farriols, Barcelona, 1779. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font

Serafí’s two sons continued the business and with them two branches of the family emerged. One remained in charge of the factory until it closed down and the other disassociated itself from the business, but remained as the guardian of the firm’s memory by conserving the oldest documents referring to it. The aforementioned Miquel Tarradell and his two daughters, who have now made the donation to the Museu Nacional, are direct descendants of this latter branch.

An interesting anecdote is that when he was a boy, during the long summer of 1934 the future university professor published a handwritten magazine in which he wrote some articles about this family workshop, after reading and studying family heirlooms and the papers that he found lying around his house. In these notebooks, guarded like treasure by his parents and now by his daughters, we have clear examples, not just of his interest in history and the family, but also of his acute critical analysis and interpretation of evidence, early indications of the important archaeologist he was to become.

 

Cover of issue no. 2 of the handwritten magazine Íntim, published by Miquel Tarradell in June 1934. Archive of Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.
Cover of issue no. 2 of the handwritten magazine Íntim, published by Miquel Tarradell in June 1934. Archive of Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.

The donation includes testimonies to the production in Barcelona of scales and weights, as well as printed and handwritten books and some family photographs. All in all it is a remarkable addition to the collections of the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalonia on the subject of metrology. That is, everything referring to local weights and measures and especially monetary ones, from a reputable establishment in Barcelona. This strategic interest in metrological matters is not new, as can be seen in a display cabinet in the permanent Numismatics room, dedicated to modern metrology, in which some scales by the Farriols company are in fact exhibited.

Interior del núm. 2 de la revista manuscrita Íntim, editada per Miquel Tarradell el juny de 1934. Arxiu Núria i Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.
Interior of issue no. 2 of the handwritten magazine Íntim, published by Miquel Tarradell in June 1934. Archive of Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.

The incorporation of the new pieces in the donation opens up exciting prospects from hereon for the study not only of this particular establishment’s production, but also of the collective context of locksmith’s workshops in Barcelona over a long period in which the city was an important producer of weighing scales and measures.

Antonio Bordazar de Artazu, Proporción de monedas, pesos i medidas, Valencia, 1736. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.
Antonio Bordazar de Artazu, Proporción de monedas, pesos i medidas, Valencia, 1736. Donated by Núria and Eulàlia Tarradell i Font.

To mark this admission, the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalonia has prepared a small exhibition that can be visited until the beginning of March in the display cabinets at the entrance to the Joaquim Folch i Torres Library. The aim is to present a selection of the pieces admitted, to outline how they will be studied during the coming year for the purpose of devoting the 30th Seminar on the Monetary History of the Crown of Aragon to this subject, and, finally, to thank the Tarradell sisters for their generous gesture of sharing the family memory and making it a part of the public heritage, open to everyone.

Related links

Barcelona, factory of weighing scales.

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Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya

Albert Estrada-Rius
Gabinet Numismàtic de Catalunya

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