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WEIGHING MONEY

Some of the earliest writings on Babylonian cuneiform clay tablets indicate that number and measurement of mass, length and volume were already in use at the time writing was being developed. This gives the practice of using artefacts to measure mass (weighing) a much longer history than that of coins. Priests and kings set up weight standards and made weights so that trade could flourish honestly. With the invention of precious metal coinage in the Greek world in about 700BC there became a great need for testing coins to prevent fraud (forgery started with the first coins!).

Babylonian bronze weight c. 500 BC, in the form of a sheep, 33mm long  x 27mm high

Babylonian bronze weight c. 500 BC, in the form of a sheep, 33mm long x 27mm high

We deal with the artefacts of weighing of all periods from before 3000 B.C. to 20th century weights and scales. Our special interest is in the weights specifically made to weigh coins. These have their origins with the Greeks and were widely used in Roman and Byzantine times. They became abundant from 13th century onwards in Europe and die out in the mid-Victorian times. The need for a large number of different weights was due to the many small states which made gold coins that made up Medieval Europe. The demise of the coin weight was due mostly to the cheap rocker balance and latterly the removal of precious metal from the coinage.  We have a small selection of weights and scales for sale at fixed prices on our website

Simmons Gallery has been holding postal auctions for more than twenty years. Until recently we sent out hardcopies of the catalogue and bid sheets to our customers only via the post and they returned their completed bid sheets either by post. Although we have put the Mailbid catalogue on our website it is still a postal auction, therefore all bids must be delivered to us in writing, whether by email, by post or indeed by the interactive online bidding form. A bidding form can be printed from the website or you can contact us for your hardcopy the latest Mailbid Catalogue. The images in this posting are taken from our recent auction earlier in March 2014.  Next auction is scheduled for the autumn.

Rocker balance to weigh a gold sovereign or half sovereign coin by Simmons (no relation!) c. 1840s

Rocker balance to weigh a gold sovereign or half sovereign coin by Simmons (no relation!) c. 1840s

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