11 October 2012

Metal Detecting Post #84 - Colonial Trade Weight

Earlier this summer, I was doing some relic hunting on a Shenandoah Valley farm that dates to the mid 1740's. I found a heavy disc and, like many other "whatzit" finds, I laid it in the trunk of my car. I cleaned my trunk out the other day and came across it again. I had forgotten all about it. I laid it out on my patio where it stayed for a couple of weeks. This evening, I decided to clean the mud off of it. I was amazed at what was underneath - a British Colonial trade weight, circa 1760~1820. Trade weights were used to obtain precise weight measurements in trade transactions. Here's what one website says about this item.

"This is a bronze weight of the reign of George III . . . Note the relative positions of the marks - the 'dagger', the fancy A, the ewer, and the royal cypher."

The "A" at 9 o'clock is for "avoirdupois." According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

"avoirdupois weight, traditional system of weight in the British Imperial System and the United States Customary System of weights and measures. The name derives ultimately from French avoir de pois (“goods of weight” or “property”). The avoirdupois pound contains 7,000 grains, or 256 drams of 27.344 grains each, or 16 ounces of 437 1/2 grains each. It is used for all products not subject to apothecaries’ weight (for pharmaceutical items) or troy weight (for precious metals). It is equal to about 1.22 apothecaries’ or troy pounds. Since 1959 the avoirdupois pound has been officially defined in most English-speaking countries as 0.45359237 kg."

At 3 o'clock is a crown over a "G" - the royal cypher.
At 6 o'clock is a "ewer" - The London Founders' Company mark.

At 12 o'clock is the sword of St Paul - the City of London Guildhall mark.

Is is made of some type of copper alloy (bronze). It never ceases to amaze me to think about the history we walk over every day of our lives. 

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