Until 1927, counties in North Carolina were responsible for providing a legal standard for weights and measures. At the September 12, 1793, meeting of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions (the county government of the day), the Justices of the Peace commissioned a set of weights, measures of wet and dry volume, and a yard in length, to be obtained by Alexander Gray, a leading citizen who operated a store in the then-county seat of Johnstonville. The Standard was ordered from London, England, from the firm of Mary de Grave, Scale Makers for His Majesty and Exporters of Scales and Steelyards. The original invoice is dated June 13, 1804, and gives a detailed description of the Standard: all the cup measures were of copper with handles. All cups and weights were engraved “Randolph County, N.C.” and stamped at the Guild Hall in the City of London. A yard stick was made of the best yellow metal, engraved properly and divided on one side ½ and ½ yard, and the other side, inches. The set was to be delivered in a strong wainscot box with partitions to hold all the weights and measures, strong iron handles and a good lock and key, and sealed at the Exchequers. The total cost was $197.87.
Sometime after responsibility for setting standards shifted to the state, Randolph County's weights and measures were thrown out. Part of the set was found in a junk yard in Franklinville in the 1950s, and later reacquired by the Randolph County Public Library. Another part of the set was discovered in 2000 in an Asheboro junkyard and donated to the Randolph County Historical Society. The full set was on display at the Asheboro Public Library for many years before being moved to the Historic 1909 Randolph County Courthouse.
The weights and measures are the oldest artifacts of Randolph County government, and one of the oldest surviving sets in the state.