The Mystery of the Scales


One October Sunday we took the opportunity to visit a local antiques fair and whilst there, took a fancy to a rather ornate set of scales. As they were still there a few hours later when we had finished looking around the rest of the fair, we negotiated with the vendor and made our purchase. The scales were disassembled and brought home and reassembled on the coffee table.  We noted though, that the scales were not perfectly balanced and found that by placing a penny in the left hand dish seemed to balance the scales more accurately, although with a slight bias on the left hand side.

The coin was left in place during the next 24 hours and realising there might be a chance of contamination if left there was removed on the Monday night. The scales were left once again registered a bias on the right hand side. On Tuesday the scales were still showing the same bias and we remarked that we would have find something to attach to the bottom to readdress the balance. We left the house together and set off to our separate places of work, both of which are about half an hour away from home.

By pure coincidence we both arrived home at exactly the same time and entered the house. Within a couple a minutes I noticed that once again the scales were biased towards the left hand side. Without further examination I berated my partner for putting the penny back in the left had dish, which she denied. On examination of the scales we noted that there was in fact nothing in either of the dishes, but even stranger the two dishes were in fact on the opposite side to where we had left them in the morning. This was quite distinguishable due to a tiny bit of black tarnish in what had been in the left hand dish in the morning.

Due to burglary several years ago we are extremely security conscious and have numerous locks on both the front and back doors. The windows in the property have all been sealed shut and the summer heat is combated using air conditioning. There are only two sets of keys to the property which each of us keep with us at all times, with no other person having access to the property. Our movements for the day can all be accounted for and with each of us only having a 45 minute lunch break, making it impossible for either of us to have travelled home and back to switch the dishes over. The doors were all fully locked and all the windows still sealed and intact.

How could anyone else have entered the property and switched the two dishes over? The only possible solution I have been able to come up with is since the scales were located only some eight feet from the front door, someone must have pushed a couple of poles with hooks on through the letterbox, lifted off the baskets and switched them over. However, we live in a terraced house with the front door directly onto the pavement and directly over the road is a busy shop so the timing of the deed would have had to be perfect when everyone was distracted. I hope all the sceptics amongst you find this a reasonable and acceptable explanation as to how the two dishes were swapped over.

  PICOUK have withheld the author's name at their request