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Trade weights

 

The basic traditional unit of weight, the pound, originated as a Roman unit and was used throughout the Roman Empire. The Roman pound was divided into 12 ounces, but many European merchants preferred to use a larger pound of 16 ounces, perhaps because a 16-ounce pound is conveniently divided into halves, quarters, or eighths. During the Middle Ages there were many different pound standards in use, some of 12 ounces and some of 16. The use of these weight units naturally followed trade routes, since merchants trading along a certain route had to be familiar with the units used at both ends of the trip.

In traditional English law the various pound weights are related by stating all of them as multiples of the grain, which was originally the weight of a single barleycorn. Thus barleycorns are at the origin of both weight and distance units in the English system.

The oldest English weight system has been used since the time of the Saxon kings. It is based on the 12-ounce troy pound, which provided the basis on which coins were minted and gold and silver were weighed. Since Roman coins were still in circulation in Saxon times, the troy system was designed to model the Roman system directly. The troy pound weighs 5760 grains, and the ounces weigh 480 grains. Twenty pennies weighed an ounce, and therefore a pennyweight is 480/20 = 24 grains. The troy system continued to be used by jewelers and also by druggists until the nineteenth century. Even today gold and silver prices are quoted by the troy ounce in financial markets everywhere.

Since the troy pound was smaller than the commercial pound units used in most of Europe, medieval English merchants often used a larger pound called the "mercantile" pound (libra mercatoria). This unit contained 15 troy ounces, so it weighed 7200 grains. This unit seemed about the right size to merchants, but its division into 15 parts, rather than 12 or 16, was very inconvenient. Around 1300 the mercantile pound was replaced in English commerce by the 16-ounce avoirdupois pound. This is the pound unit still in common use in the U.S. and Britain. Modeled on a common Italian pound unit of the late thirteenth century, the avoirdupois pound weighs exactly 7000 grains. The avoirdupois ounce, 1/16 pound, is divided further into 16 drams.

Unfortunately, the two English ounce units don't agree: the avoirdupois ounce is 7000/16 = 437.5 grains while the troy ounce is 5760/12 = 480 grains. Conversion between troy and avoirdupois units is so awkward, no one wanted to do it. The troy system quickly became highly specialized, used only for precious metals and for pharmaceuticals, while the avoirdupois pound was used for everything else.

Since at least 1400 a standard weight unit in Britain has been the hundredweight, which is equal to 112 avoirdupois pounds rather than 100. There were very good reasons for the odd size of this "hundred": 112 pounds made the hundredweight equivalent for most purposes with competing units of other countries, especially the German zentner and the French quintal. Furthermore, 112 is a multiple of 16, so the British hundredweight can be divided conveniently into 4 quarters of 28 pounds, 8 stone of 14 pounds, or 16 cloves of 7 pounds each. The ton, originally a unit of wine measure, was defined to equal 20 hundredweight or 2240 pounds.

During the nineteenth century, an unfortunate disagreement arose between British and Americans concerning the larger weight units. Americans, not very impressed with the history of the British units, redefined the hundredweight to equal exactly 100 pounds. The definition of the ton as 20 hundredweight made the disagreement carry over to the size of the ton: the British "long" ton remained at 2240 pounds while the American "short" ton became exactly 2000 pounds. (The American hundredweight became so popular in commerce that British merchants decided they needed a name for it; they called it the cental.) Today, most international shipments are reckoned in metric tons, which, coincidentally, are rather close in weight to the British long ton.

Medieval shield weight

Stunning early medieval lead shield trade weight - Lion pracing right - first of that type we have found

Medieval lead heraldic shield type trade weight

c12thC Medieval heraldic shield type lead trade weight - hammer symbol

Medieval shield type trade weight

Circular trade weights

Stunning 16thC Tudor Elizabeth 1st trade weight - Crown EL London hall mark.

Rare 1700 nicely hallmarked Queen Ann trade weight
London hallmarked George III trade weight(b)
1/2 Oz trade weight(y)
Trade weight probably William III or IV (b)
 
George 1st London hallmark trade weight
George 1st trade weight

1/4 Oz trade weight

Middlesex mark 1850's

Trade weight hallmarked William 1696
 
Hallmarked London trade weight (b)
Essex hallmarked trade weight
Huge George 1st 1714 AD London hallmarked trade weight
2- trade weights with a hallmark that is not in the reference book
One once trade weigh
London hallmarked trade weight
George II trade weight
Trade weight(c)

19thC London trade weight

Middlesex mark 1850's(r)

20thC 2 oz trade weight
George III London hallmark trade weight
8 Drams weight
George 1st London trade weight
George 1st trade weight Lincoln Hallmark
1 oz Victorian trade weight
George II London hallmarked trade weight
Trade weight not in the reference books - possible Post Office
George II London hallmarked trade weight
1704 Queen Anne trade weight - Crown A London
1714 George 1st trade weight - Crown G mark - London
2 George II trade weights London mint
1705 Queen Anne trade weight London mint Georgian trade weight, , Crown G London hallmark
17thC bronze cup type bullion weight
Interesting bronze trade weight - possibly Dutch
George 1st trade weight - Crown G London mark
19thC London Guildhall hallmark trade weight
1690's William and Mary trade weight with London hall mark sword and ewer George 1st trade weight - Cown G cipher London
Georgian coin weight - Portcullis type - Westminster mark
George II trade weight - London hall mark 1.84 g
Victorian 2oz trade weight - Crown VR mark
1670's Charles II trade weight - Crown C cipher London
Victorian 2oz trade weight - Cown VR mark
1704 Anne trade weight - Crown A cipher
George 1st trade weight
Victorian trade weight - Crown VR cipher
1509-47 Henry VIII trade weight - London hallmark, Crown h - 1.9oz 48.9mm dia
George 1st trade weight
Georgian trade weight
George III trade weight - London mint
George III trade weight - London mint
3 - Trade weights - need more cleaning but the bottom one is a George 1st London mint
George III trade weight with London hallmarks
George III trade weight with London hallmarks
1696 William III trade weight - London mint mark, crown with W
Victorian trade weight - Crown VR - 12.73g
George III trade weight with London hallmarks
Victorian trade weight with full hall marks

1696 William III weight - NOT a coin weight but market traders weight

Crown above GVINEA W type

1509 AD Monster sized trade weight with Crown h mint mark indicating Henry VIII
1509 - 47 AD Henry VIII trade weight - Crown h mintmark
1826 William IIII trade weight - London Crown W 6.87g
1704 Queen Anne trade weight - London mintmark Crown A
Georgian trade weight - London hallmark

16th C Henry VIII trade weight - Crown h mark London

Interesting marks on reverse to lighten the weight ?

Georgian trade weight - London hallmark
1830's trade weight - London guildhall hallmark
17thC William III trade weight
George II trade weight - Crown G London mint

George II trade weight - Crown G and London hallmark

53.03g,36.12mm

George II trade weight - Crown G London mint
Stunning 17thC Charles 1st trade weight - Crown C with London hallmarks
George III trade weight - Crown G hall mark
17thC William III traxde weight - Crown W london hall mark
George II trade weight - Crown G London mint
1830 London guildhall trade weight
Georgian trade weight- Crown G mark
Trade weight - need more cleaning for date marks
20thC 4 grams trade weight
Facinating London trade weight - Stamped Crown W for 1696 William III and both Crown A for Queene Anne 1704 - Restamped after Williams death
17thC William III trade weight - 'W' markings
Victorian 1/4 oz trade weight
George II trade weight - London hallmarks
George 1st trade weight - Crown G London hall mark
Excellent 17thC William and mary trade weight - Crown WM cipher London hallmarks
20thC Elizabeth II 4oz trade weight
George 1st trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
Imitation weight, forgery ?
1835 London Guildhall trade weight
1835 London Guildhall trade weight
George II trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
George 1st trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
Victorian 1/2 oz trade weight
Georgian trade weight - Crown G London mark
George II trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
George II trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
1634 Charles 1st trade weight - Crown CR cipher
George II trade weight - Crown G cypher - London hall mark
Victorian trade weight - Crown VR cipher
First totally unmarked trade weight we have ever found
Huge George 1st trade weight - Crown G cipher London
1704 Queen Anne trade weight - Crown A cipher
20thC Elizabeth II 1oz trade weight - Crown ER cipher
17thC Charles 1st trade weight - Crown C cipher

George II trade weight - Crown G cipher

London

1704 Anne tarde weight - Crown A cipher
Georgian trade weight - Crown G cipher
Georgian trade weight - Crown G cipher 17thC William III trade weight - Crown W cipher
1634 Charles 1st weight - crown C cipher 1830's London guildhall trade weight George III trade weight - Crown G cipher London George 1st trade weight - crown G cipher
George 1st trade weight Crown G cipher London George II trade weight - Crown G cipher 1830's - trade weight - London mark
George II trade weight - Crown G cipher London George 1st trade weight - Crown G London cipher
1603 James 1st trade weight 1696 William III trade weight - Crown W cipher London 1830 London guildhall trade weight George II trade weight - Crown G cipher London
20thC 10g trade weight Georgian trade weight - London 2oz Victorian trade weight 15thC Henry VIII trade weight - Crown h cipher - London mint
George II trade weight 1826 London trade weight 1830's Guild hall London trade weight George II trade weight - Crown G London
Georgian trade weight 1603 James 1st trade weight - Crown I cipher - London mint Victorian trade weight
Victorian 1/4 oz trade weight George 1st trade weight - Cown G cipher London George III trade weight - London hall mark Victorian 1 oz trade weight
Georgian trade weight - Crown G cipher London 17thC Charles 1st/2nd trade weight - Crown C cipher 17thC Charles 1st/2nd trade weight - Crown C cipher 1704 Anne trade weight - Crown A cipher London
Georgian trade weight 17thC Charles 1st trade weight - Crown C cipher London George 1st trade weight - Crown G cipher London
1830's Georgian London Guildhall coin weight - Crown G and shield

Georgian trade weight

Crow G cipher London

1485 Henry VII trade weight - Crown h mark
Unknown trade weight - EX 6 marking ? George 1st trade weight - Crwon G cipher London George II trade weight - Crwon G cipher London
Georgian trade weight

Unknown trade weight - Averdepois mark under I - London 1590-1826

Obv V I D - 6 pennyweights ?

17thC Charles II trade weight - Crown C cipher London
George 1st trade weight - London Crown G cipher Victorian Oz trade weight George II trade weight - Crown G London Victorian 1/4 oz trade weight
George II trade weight - Crown G London cipher Victorian trade weight 17thC Willian III trade weight - Crown W cipher London Victorian trade weight
1830's London Guildhall trade weight Post medieval trade weight Georgian trade weight - Crown G London cipher Georgian trade weight - Crown G London cipher

1500-1550 Henry VII to Henry VIII trade weight

40mm dia, 21.8g (0.769oz)

Obv Crown h

c1422 trade weight - earliest example with single crown stamped incuse
Georgian trade weight

1703 Queen Anne trade weight

Crown A cipher

Victorian 1 oz trade weight Georgian trade weight
Victorian half ounce trade weight 1603 James 1st trade weight - Crown I cipher Unusual trade weight - stars and 895 inscription ?? Tiny George 1st trade weight - Crown G cipher
17thC William III trade weight - Crown W cipher 17thC Charles 1st trade weight - Crown C cipher 17thC William III trade weight - Crown W cipher
   
1704 Anne trade weight - Crown A cipher    
Bell type trade weights - Hallmarks are generally on the collar
19thC bell trade weight - crown V hallmark - London
18thC 1 Oz bell shaped trade weight
18th C Bell type trade weight
18th C Bell type trade weight
William III cast c/a trade weight 1694-1702
18th C Bell type trade weight
18th C Bell type trade weight
Georgian bell trade weight 53.35g,
Georgian bell trade weight 13.52 g,
Georgian trade weight, unusally hallmarked on the base, Crown G
Georgian bell trade weight
Georgian bell trade weight
Georgian bell trade weight - hallmark Crown G
Interesting trade weight - no hallmarks

19thC Victoria hall marked 1/2 oz bell type trade weight

VA522

Very unusual Geogian bell type trade weight
Georgian bell type trade weight
Georgian bell type trade weight
Georgian bell type trade weight Georgian bell type trade weight Georgian bell trade weight - Crown G mark
1704 Queen Anne hall marked bell trade weight Georgian bell trade weight
Georgian bell trade weight Georgian bell trade weight
Georgian bell type trade weight Georgian bell trade weight
Georgian bell type trade weight Georgian bell weight
Lead trade weights
17thC William and Mary trade weight
Lead trade weight London mark
Lead weight with shield and crest mark, not in books(c)
Lead weight/seal with weave imprint
Large bell shaped lead weight
Hanging weight
Post Medieaval trade weight

Saxon period coin weight

N.Biggs

 
 
 
Queen Anne 1704 trade weight
1700's Lead George trade weight hallmarked(y) 
Circular lead weight, needs more cleaning to make out legends 
 
Spectacular Plummer mark 1/4 pound trade weight, not in reference books, 1588 possibly
Lead weight with circular designs - not ID'd
17th C lead weight 26 grms. Crown centre 3 line to apex crown - no parallels found - probably unclassified or forgery.
Hanging weight
15th C shield-shaped lead weight with cheverons x 2 pointing down, rounded bottom. 101 grms. Common to city of London variant 122 Rogers Lead Weights.
15th C Lead cup weight 80 grms
Earlier lead find Id'd as Roman coin weight - Eight scriptula(x)
Medieval spindle whorl
15thC Long cross trade weight
lead coin weight
Large very early Medieval bullion weight- N.Biggs
Roman lead 3oz weight, 49.38 mm with III mark ref N.Biggs -
Medieval lead trade shield weight 49.87g (1.75 oz) 27.04 mm L x 25.57 mm W
Small stnaing weight
Standing lead weight
Saxon lead weight ref N.Biggs
Medieval lead standing weight
Possible Roman hanging weight Georgian hanging weight
Roman lead 3oz weight, 49.12 mm with III mark ref N.Biggs
??
Saxon lead weight ref N.Biggs
???
Roman lead weights
 
Lead weight - circle design possibly Roman
Large prism standing weight which appears to have an undefined hallmark
 
Huge medieval lead trade weight with petal design 42.11mm x772mm T
Medieval lead weight with templers cross impression
Medieval lead coin weight - cross design
1704 Queen Anne Lead circular trade weight 54.18g - double A mark with Crown
Roman circular lead trade weight
3/4 oz lead trade weight
Hexangonal lead trade weight with punched shield design - unclassified - 200g

Viking gaming pice

813.g, 25.79mm dia x11.65mm T

Roman lead trade weight with curious circle mark and MXC on obverse
1603 AD Norwich Series James 1st 1.74oz lead trade weight - shield M mark
Stunning medieval lead prism standing weight
1690 William III circular lead trade weight – Bust and Averdepois mark, 0.86 oz
15th Long cross lead trade weight
Post medieval lead prism standing weight
17thC Angel Plummer mark 1/4 pound trade weight,
Curious trade weight shape - Georgian ?
C10thC Saxon lead trade weight
Medieval lead hanging weight Post medieval lead hanging weight
Medieval lead hanging weight

Lead trade weights- Roman to medieval
Roman lead hanging weight
17thC Norwich series lead 1/4 pound trade weight
Huge 16thC Elizabeth 1st lead trade weight - Crown E cipher
17thC Plummers company hallmarked trade weight - this weighes exactly 1Ib (16 ozs) on my digital scales - amazing accuracy to make this lump of lead within 3 decimal places
Superb dated 1751 lead trade weight - inscribed WG on obv
Saxon lead trade weight
18thC weight C 9thC Saxon lead trade weight - snake design
Lead trade weight with clear cipher marks - not one in my ref books 1680's James II lead trade weight - IR - Plumbers Company mark
Interesting lead coin weight - no looked it up in ref books yet 17thC lead trade weight
16thC lead trade weight

Huge c10thC Anglo Scandinavian trade weight with runic inscription - one for the museum

The inscription on the weight seems to read YN[A?}HINAA:, which does not make much sense on a first reading. You could ask Prof. Norman Biggs

Dr Martin Allen

Huge medieval heraldic shield type lead trade weight

Chevrons

Post medieval lead hanging trade weight - interesting markings not known
Post medieval trade weight Medieval lead trade weight Medieval weight
Interesting medieval lead trade weight with copper plug Medieval lead trade weight
 
Medieval lead weight - cross design Medieval lead weight - cross design Early medieval trade weight  
1704 Anne lead trade weight Medieval trade weight
16thC Elizabeth 1st Lead trade weight - Crown E Huge medieval lead hanging trade weight
Medieval lead steelyard weight 17thC lead trade weight
 
Medieval lead trade weight  

Bullion cup weights 17th/18th C

Part of a nest of several different weights that fitted inside each other - the outer weight had the holes for a carrying handle

 

18thC bullion cup weight with XD on the rim - 10 pence ?