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Obsolete feet

Prior to standardization, the measurement of length designated “the foot” was a different size depending on which country or region you were in.


Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff (Text: Hartmann Schedel) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Notable variants included the Prussian foot, the Rijnland foot (which became the Cape foot used in South Africa), and the Chinese mathematician’s foot (which is smaller than the tradesman’s foot for some reason). The largest obsolete foot was the Bordeaux foot (35.7cm, 1’2”); the smallest was the Utrect foot (27.2cm, 10”).

Some countries (usually empires!) tried to standardise the foot within their territory: the Roman foot, the metric foot from France, and the Indian survey foot. The United States still uses the foot, but for most of the world all feet are now obsolete.

Categories: Early modern history History Medieval history Sciences Weights & measures

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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