The Proof of the Coin is in the Weight

Past & Present

Metal detectorists come across many unusual items from bygone ways of life on their expeditions. Spindle whorls are common, as are shoe buckles. One of the most interesting items, though, are coin weights.

Coin weightswere used for centuries to ensure the quality of precious metal coinage, almost always for the larger denominations of coins. They were one of the first technological developments to prevent coin clipping and counterfeiting. Generally made to match the lowest possible weight at which a certain coin could be considered legal tender, they were made of lower-quality metal like iron or bronze.

800px-Al-Walid_ibn_Abdul-Rahman_-_Inscribed_Pound_Weight_-_Walters_476_-_Three_Quarter_Left.jpgWeights are first found in the Ptolemaic and Byzantine Empires, as well as in ancient China. Islamic civilizations also used coin weights, eventually preferring glass weights, as they were thought to be unalterable. Islamic weights are the first to appear in Britain, having been introduced by the Vikings, who traded extensively with…

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