Reviewed By: I.Ball
Category: Old Tape Measures
Tool Type: Tape Measure
Model No: Constantia (Leather)
The Chesterman Constantia tape measure has a woven linen tape, a
brass winder and a solid leather, hand-stitched, lined case with a
special waterproof lining.
The Constantia tape measures were made in many different lengthed tapes:
Length in Metres: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50
Length in Feet: 25, 33, 40, 50, 66, 75, 100
The tape typically measured with the measurement commencing from the outside of the ring at the end of the tape, i.e. ring is included in the measurement. It was possible to custom order a different arrangement.
On top of the many different length Constantia tapes that were available to buy, there was also the option of having the measurements marked on one side or both sides. The most common measurements were feet and inches on the top side with links to the reverse side.
The tapes measures which surface most regularly today are 33ft, 66ft, and 100ft with measurements on both sides. It does seem James Chesterman and Co Ltd were happy to make certain custom changes from their catalogued tapes so it is entirely possible there are variations to these measurements and lengths.
They were made in two different widths. 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch, however Chesterman recommended the 5/8 inch as the most serviceable one.
The tape measure could either be supplied with a 'folding handle', which was the cheaper option, or Chesterman's 'patent flush handle', which was advertised as "takes up less room when carried in the pocket." The handles also had another advantage at the time, they had a 'patent eyelet attachment', which prevents the screw at the back of the case from working loose and falling out.
The Constantia tape measures were the tape that were chosen most by many government departments as their standard pattern.
Chesterman advertised "we confidently recommend it as the best woven tape made".
All the materials used in the manufacture of the Woven Tapes were of the very finest
The weaving, and all the preliminary processes to weaving were entirely carried out by skilled people in their factory.
The woven tapes were protected by special paints and varnishes which were made in-house by Chesterman, to ensure long life and prevent, as far as possible, shrinking and stretching.
To secure the longest possible life for a woven tape, it was most important that the tape was dried, and not wound up in a damp state inside the case.
The leather cases are not metal lined like some competitor lines of the time, as Chesterman found that in the event of the case getting crushed with the tape out, it is impossible to re-wind it in the case, and in the same way, if the tape is in the case, it is impossible to get it out as it becomes tightly jammed.
Length (total length in meters):
5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50
Length (total length in feet):
25, 33, 40, 50, 66, 75, 100
'JC, Chesterman, Sheffield, England, Constantia' on both sides.
[the size] on the brass winder (usually 33ft, 66ft or 100ft).
Sometimes there are additional marks such as a company name, goverment department or an owners name/mark.
? - ? (1934)
Due to the age of these tape measures, it is quite common to find the first 6-10
inches of the tape heavily worn with fraying or the numbers barely visible.
It is also fairly common to find the brass pull missing or replaced.
Another less desirable fault which can occur is the winder handle no longer holds shut; it flaps about when held upside down.
The case stitching can sometimes be coming apart at the seams.
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