The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 10, March 6, 2022, Article 4


Paul (and Bente Withers) of Galata in Wales write:

Coin Weights vol 1 England cover "Over the last two years we have been working on a dream project, that of writing a work on the coin-weights of Europe. This began with A guide to the coin-weights of England, Scotland and Ireland which introduces the subject to coin collectors who may be unfamiliar with coin-weights, and others who encounter them and are puzzled by them. This is a guide, rather like the Stanley Gibbons simplified stamp catalogue; wherein the major types are listed, but not the minor varieties.

Reference numbers are identical with those used in our 1993 publication British Coin-Weights. Previously unpublished items are given new numbers in curly brackets {xxx} The two-page Glossary section is designed for the use of a wide range of readers of many nationalities, some of whom may have a limited English vocabulary, and perhaps also limited knowledge of coins and numismatic terms. It is also a listing of the more common words relating to coin-weights, in English, French, and German. Finally, there is a two-page index.

Due to the advances in typesetting and printing since 1993 this we are able to offer this 98 page, A4 paperback, illustrated in colour throughout, plus some b&w photos and line drawings. Well over 650 items are illustrated life-size, with more than 20 enlargements of details, and 19 illustrations of boxes, labels and rocker balances, etc., for just £22.00 plus p & p.

Now, within a few weeks of publication the final two volumes in the set are undergoing the last touches of proof-reading and preparation, not exactly an easy task because they have been achieved with the co-operation of many people and institutions.

Much previously un-published information is available here.

The first of the two volumes begins with an appreciation of Adolphe Dieudonné the exceptional French numismatist who wrote the first book on coin-weights very nearly a century ago. Its publication also coincides with our recent golden wedding, and my 80th birthday which will be on the same day as the Queen celebrates her birthday in her record-breaking reign."

Congratulations on all counts! Here is the press release announcing the two new volumes. -Editor

  Coin Weights vol 2 cover Coin Weights vol 3 cover

Following the publication last year of A Guide to the COIN-WEIGHTS of England, Scotland and Ireland we are about to publish the final two volumes in the series Coin-Weights of Europe.

We have been collecting coin-weights for almost fifty years. As a result of which we have compiled these two volumes with the aid of many people and organisations including museums, auction houses, fellow dealers, collectors, archaeologists, researchers, and numismatists in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, France, and Italy. As a result, these two volumes are result of a life-time's study and effort, not just by us, but by many others as well.

Above all, the work has three main features - it has literally thousands of life-size, or enlarged colour illustrations, it has photo's or line drawings of the coins the coin-weights were intended to check, and it is in English.

The first volume begins with 30 pages designed to give the novice collector who may not be familiar with the subject, information to put him, or her, into the scene, including: a short history, important or useful information such as a list of French kings with their dates of reign, and details of the French (pre-metric) weight system. There is a list of the French and foreign coins for which coin-weights were made in France, together with information about their weights, fineness, dates of issue etc.

It has the French mint identification letters from 1540 until 1890. A table of weights stated on French coin-weights with their gram equivalents. For the reader unfamiliar with French coins the coins are identified by using red numbers indicating weights for gold coins, blue for silver coins, and green for bullion weights. There is a four page glossary which is designed for the use of a wide range of readers of several nationalities, some of whom may have a limited English vocabulary, and perhaps also a limited knowledge of coins and numismatic terms. It is a list of the more common words relating to French and other coin-weights, their English equivalents and vice versa. Amazingly, some pertinent words relating to coin-weights can't even be found on the internet. Readers are reminded that until 1740 the letter U was written as V, and modern spellings were not fixed until the 1790s, or even later, and spelling can vary with the engraver's dialect or accent!

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The first part of the text proper covers in some detail the earliest coin-weights of France and Flanders made in lead or pewter. Then a detailed catalogue of the mediæval French-made weights for French and foreign coins. It also has the coin-weights of Europe, including the square weights of Germany and the Netherlands, the round weights of Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Schleswig-Holstein under Danish rule, Poland, Moldavia. Italian-made coin-weights including the weights issued by the Popes for Italian, Spanish and Portuguese coins.

The simple numbering system adopted, using the initial letter(s) of the country of issue, makes for easy use for cataloguing by auction houses, and collectors.

The sections on the square coin-weights of the Netherlands and Germany are basically a very good, if not the best identification guide to the weights - similar to our ‘Lions, Ships and Angels' book. Although there is much information freely available on the internet, it is often neither full, nor reliable, but what you read in our book is trustworthy and based on the very latest information from serious researchers and experts in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The coin-weights of Italy are covered in a simplified way (by major type, not minor varieties).

Plain weights with a knob (knop), or pin on top are not generally listed in our books. We leave them out as they are neither rare nor unusual, simply plain and less interesting. However, some weights of this kind are included along with pictures of weights in boxes and the scales, to tell a little more of the fascinating story of weights and weighing.

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The second volume has detailed coverage of the post-mediæval round and square coin.weights of France. Countermarks from the City of Lyon (and other places) are illustrated enlarged (with references to Lavagne) along with those from other French mints.

It also has:

  • a short essay: Bullion flows and their impact on bimetallic currency values in Europe, c.1300-1800 by Oisi´n Mac Conamhna,
  • the Statutes and Regulations of June 1668 regarding the working practices of the master scale-makers of the city of Lyon,
  • a map of the precious metal assay regions and hall marks of France,
  • a comprehensive bibliography,
  • a table of weights stated on French coin-weights and gram equivalents,
  • a specialist legend index - 8 pages of two-column text,
  • a five page (3 column) general index.

A major feature of both volumes is that the type-setting matches as closely as possible the relative sizes and styles of the legends on the weights, including laterally reversed (and upside-down) lettering and special characters.

The catalogue is arranged in a different fashion from traditional works, as our listings are made according to the country of manufacture of the weight, so that coin-weights that were made in France for Burgundian, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish coins, are all listed under France. Where possible, readers are referred to appropriate specialist catalogues of coin-weights.

Size A4 (210 x 297mm) 8.25 x 11.7 inches. Paperback. 2 volumes. Over 2500 weights are illustrated in colour (with a few black and white), as well as line drawings or photographs of the coins. Around 400 pages. The mediæval weights are enlarged 2:1, the remainder 1:1. There are many hundreds of enlargements of countermarks.

Price £80 plus p & p.

For more information, or to order, see:
Coin-Weights of Europe, vols. 2 and 3 (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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