Coin weights were made to correspond to the weights of particular coin denominations. They were most commonly made of brass or other copper alloy and were generally produced for high-value coins made of gold rather than silver. Their purpose was to check the weight of coin in circulation and ensure that coin received was of good quality. Normally they would correspond to the lowest weight at which the coin remained legal tender. They could be used to guard against clipped, worn or counterfeit coins and to check the standards of foreign coinage permitted in currency. Coin-weights or 'penny-poises' are mentioned in Statutes as early as 1205 during the reign of King John for use as a deterrent against the passing of light or clipped coins. No official coin-weights are known for the silver sterling penny and in fact all known coin-weights of English origin are for gold coins until the reign of Charles I (1625-49). The first weights that we recognise from documentary sources today are those for the gold Noble and its half and quarter dating from the 1420's. Early English coin-weights are round and uniface, and the design is usually based on the main design of the coin that it represents. From the beginning of the 16th century square coin-weights were used, still uniface until Henry VIII's reign, when the coin value in shillings (S) and pence (D) began to be placed on the reverse in Roman numerals.
|Back to Coin and Trade Weights Main Menu|
|16th Century 'Half Noble' Coin Weight 003253|
16th Century Continental 'Half Noble' Coin Weight
Copper-alloy, 5.75 grams, 13.81 mm square. Continental Issue, for the English half noble coin; circa 16th century AD. Obverse: king standing in ship, with small lifting knob. Reverse: plain. Withers p. 20. Good fine.
|James I 'Gold Crown' Coin Weight 017082|
James I 'Gold Crown' Coin Weight
Copper-alloy, 1.99 grams, 12.54 mm square. 1603-1625 AD. Obverse: profile bust with uncertain legend. Reverse: crown over V and S to weight the quarter laurel of James I, with crowned I verification mark. Withers p. 15. Fair.
|Medieval 'Gold Ryal' Coin Weight 015376|
Medieval 'Gold Ryal' Coin Weight
Copper-alloy, 7.15 grams, 16.45 mm. Circa 15th century AD. A thick discoid coin weight equivalent to one gold ryal coin, with incuse figural design. Reference: cf. disc coin weight in Read, B. Metal Artefacts of Antiquity, Langport, 2001 no.842. Fair condition. Provenance: found in Wiltshire and recorded with the PAS under reference WILT-80D731.
|Back to previous page|