Weights come in many types:
- Those for domestic use (which need not concern us)
- Those for use in commerce.
- Weights for checking other weights
- Miscellaneous weights (for weighing coins etc.)
Marks on weightsCommercial weights have always been regulated by some authority or other, and generally exhibit marks showing when, and by whom, they were tested. Cast-iron weights generally have either a lead plug underneath, into which a stamp can be made, although older weights can have copper, brass, or lead plugs in the top of the weight. Brass weights can be stamped into directly, or can have a lead plug. Where lead is used, adding more or less weight allows the weight to be adjusted be the tester. The marks on a weight usually consist of:
- a) The weight (but not always!)
- b) The cipher of the monarch
- c) Something to identify the locality where the weight was tested, either a number or a heraldic device.
- d) A date
- e) A maker's name (more often seen on cast-iron weights than brass ones).
- f) Other marks, for example a design registration number, or a trade mark.
For example, the weight in front of me now has the following marks: 'oz 8', 'GR (with a crown)', '200 (which means Blackburn)', '1948 E', no makers name, and 'RD 160990 - which relates to a design lodged with the Public Records Office.
Another weight close to hand simply has the marks 'WIV' - i.e. William IV, and 'VR (with a picture of a lion)' - which means it comes from York. VR by itself of course would mean 'Victoria Regina'.
Other marks you may see on weights include: A large letter A - meaning Avoirdupois, a small 'chequer board' - meaning that the weight was used to check other weights, a dagger - meaning that it was stamped in London , and a ewer (looks like a coffee-pot) and the date 1826 - which means it was assayed between 1826 and 1892.
See the picture gallery link for examples of some of these marks.
See the names on weights link for a list of names shown on weights.
See also the external links page.