Viking Weights for sale

Before the introduction of a standardized coinage, the balancing of pieces of silver against known weights was an essential part of commercial transactions. The weight system used by the majority of traders in the Viking period was based on standardized Byzantine forms, usually made in the form of a truncated sphere and often bearing a symbol indicating the value. Weights of this kind were used in long-distance trade along the rivers of southern, eastern and northern Europe (Volga, Vistula, Danube, etc.) and formed a common unit for exchange. In the absence of a single, regulated coinage, Viking traders used to accept European and Arabic coins by weight rather than by tale (i.e. as bullion rather than as currency). Silver metal could be recovered from decorative objects by simply cutting an appropriate piece from the item: this ‘hack silver’ gave rise to the practice of cutting coins into halves and quarters, and of wearing rings and arm-rings made from silver rod which could be cut up as needed – the so-called Viking ‘ring-money’. The items offered for sale in these pages form an introduction to the fascinating world of international long-distance trade in the early medieval period.

Customers and site-visitors may have noticed that the Anglo-Saxon site pages have been revised. As part of our ongoing programme of improving the quality and reliability of our site, the ‘Viking’ pages are been amended in the light of further detailed research. We aim to roll this out across the rest of the site in due course. Please check back for updates.

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Viking 'Barrel' Trade Weight 025688

Viking 'Barrel' Trade Weight
Copper-alloy, 41.47 grams, 25.93 mm. 10th-11th century AD. A cast weight with rounded centre and flat upper and lower faces. The format is based on contemporary Byzantine weights which played a large part in Baltic and Scandinavian trade during the early Middle Ages. Reference: Weber, K. Byzantinische Münzgewichte: Materialkorpus für 1-Nomisma-Gewichte, Schwelm, 2009. Fine condition, ferrous accretions. Provenance: found Wiltshire, UK.
£110.00

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Viking 'Barrel' Trade Weight 025688
Viking Traded 'Cross with Trefoils' Barrel-Shaped Weight 025687

Viking Traded 'Cross with Trefoils' Barrel-Shaped Weight
Copper-alloy, 99 grams, 30.66 mm. 11th century AD. A cast barrel-shaped Byzantine type weight with punched-point detail to the flat faces. The upper face bears four concentric rings of punched-points surrounding an incised cross with trefoils of punched pellets at the end of each arm. The underside is partly encrusted with a ferrous accretion, but shows similar punched-point concentric rings and a 'D' incised shape. Reference: Weber, K. Byzantinishe Münzgewichte Materialkorpus für 1-Nomisma-Gewichte, Schwelm, 2009. Very fine condition. Provenance: found Wiltshire, UK.
£175.00

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Viking Traded 'Cross with Trefoils' Barrel-Shaped Weight 025687
Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Ceramic’ Weight 017341

Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Ceramic’ Weight
Lead and ceramic, 60 grams, 31.31 mm. Circa 9th-11th century AD. An elliptical Anglo-Scandinavian lead weight into the upper surface of which has been impressed a portion of decorated ceramic, apparently a section of Roman terra sigillata of the 'African red slip' type. The design is a plant motif and the lustrous red background remains despite abrasion to the raised moulded surfaces. The weight was probably produced in England, re-using a curated fragment of Roman pottery. The Viking weight system appears to have been based on the Byzantine model, and used Byzantine forms of weight in some places, but there were also local standards in, for example, Dublin which could vary by 10% or more from the wider system. Without a central authority to impose uniformity, it is likely that the Scandinavian weight system represents a trend towards standardization from diverse beginnings. (This subject is dealt with by Kruse in the reference below.) The present piece is a rare variant of the 'embedded-metalwork' form of weight. Reference: Kruse, S. Trade and Exchange Across Frontiers in Graham-Campbell, J. & Williams, G. (eds.) Silver Economy in the Viking Age, Walnut Creek, 2007. Very fine condition. Provenance: found North East England.
£140.00

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Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Ceramic’ Weight 017341
Viking Period 'Cheese-Shaped' Weight 004335

Viking ‘Cheese-Shaped’ Weight
Iron with copper-alloy casing, 150 grams; 33.78mm. 9th-11th century. The piece is almost spherical but with flattened ‘poles’, made from an iron core with a copper-alloy outer casing. The weight of the piece is equivalent to around 20 ortugar. Such a heavy weight (5.3 modern ounces) would have been useful for commodities traded in quantity, or for heavier materials such as hack-silver. The physical shape of the weights and the system of metrology used are both based on the Byzantine model. Reference: cf. fig. 2 in Entwistle, C. Byzantine Weights in Laiou, A.E. The Economic History of Byzantium From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, Washington D.C., 2002. Published: Hammond, Brett. British Artefacts, volume 2 - Middle Saxon & Viking, Witham, 2010. Very fine condition.
£125.00

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Viking Period 'Cheese-Shaped' Weight 004335
Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight 017342

Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight
Lead and glass, 35.78 grams, 51.16 mm. Circa 9th-11th century AD. A scaphoid Anglo-Scandinavian lead weight into the upper surface of which has been impressed some fragments of coloured glass. The weight was probably produced in England, re-using a curated fragment of Roman glass; the black and deep red coloration is too strong for the standard Anglo-Saxon glass which was normally a pale green or blue. The Viking weight system appears to have been based on the Byzantine model, and used Byzantine forms of weight in some places, but there were also local standards in, for example, Dublin which could vary by 10% or more from the wider system. Without a central authority to impose uniformity, it is likely that the Scandinavian weight system represents a trend towards standardization from diverse beginnings. (This subject is dealt with by Kruse in the reference below.) The present piece is a variant of the 'embedded-metalwork' form of weight. Reference: Kruse, S. Trade and Exchange Across Frontiers in Graham-Campbell, J. & Williams, G. (eds.) Silver Economy in the Viking Age, Walnut Creek, 2007. Very fine condition. Provenance: found North East England.
£160.00

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Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight 017342
Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight 017344

Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight
Lead and glass, 22.52 grams, 20.97 mm. Circa 9th-11th century AD. A discoid Anglo-Scandinavian lead weight into the upper surface of which has been impressed a triangular fragment of glass. The weight was probably produced in England, re-using a curated fragment of Roman or Anglo-Saxon glass of pale blue-green hue. The Viking weight system appears to have been based on the Byzantine model, and used Byzantine forms of weight in some places, but there were also local standards in, for example, Dublin which could vary by 10% or more from the wider system. The present piece is a variant of the 'embedded-metalwork' form of weight and is equivalent to one øre weight. Reference: Kruse, S. Trade and Exchange Across Frontiers in Graham-Campbell, J. & Williams, G. (eds.) Silver Economy in the Viking Age, Walnut Creek, 2007. Extremely fine condition. Provenance: found North East england.
£70.00

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Viking/Anglo-Scandinavian ‘Embedded Glass’ Weight 017344


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