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instrument used in laboratories and pharmacies to measure the mass or weight of a body. A balance functions by measuring the force of gravity that the earth exerts on an object, i.e., its weight.
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(an incorrect English translation of the German Staalhof, from Middle Low German Staal, or “sample,” and Hof, or “yard,” the error resulting from the similar pronunciations of the German words Staal and Stahl, or “steel”), a name that dates from the 15th and 16th centuries for the Kontor (counter) of the German Hanseatic merchants in London, the center of Hanseatic trading in England. The Steelyard, located on the site of a German merchants’ hall known from the 13th century, was a community united in strict discipline; its members enjoyed extensive commercial privileges in England. Trade was strictly regulated by the Hanseatic League. The Steelyard had branches in several other English cities as well. In the late 16th century, the Kontor was closed; the privileges of the Hanseatic merchants were revoked, and the merchants themselves were expelled from England.