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What is a Mark (unit of weight)?


Squadron Leader
Staff member
Dec 16, 2017
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
A British mark is a unit of money equal to 13 shillings and 4 pence (old money); i.e. 2/3 of a pound; i.e. 160 pence. It is a "unit of accounting" — I don't think any 1-mark coins were ever minted.

If one assumes parity (i..e. that a pound of money equals 1 troy pound of sterling silver, and one penny equals 1 troy pennyweight of sterling silver) then a "mark" would be 8 troy ounces.

So far so good. Easy-peazy. I already knew all that.

(Nerds only please; this is VERY boring.)

But I like to check and double-check, and wanted to learn how the unit derived initially, so I Googled. (Never mind why I "care" about such things! :) )

Google's response flabbergasted me!!

Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
Wiki's Mark_(unit) said:
The Mark (from Middle High German: Marc, march, brand) is originally a medieval weight or mass unit, which supplanted the pound weight as a precious metals and coinage weight from the 11th century. The Mark is traditionally a half pound weight and was usually divided into 8 ounces or 16 lots.
:confused: First of all, the mark never "supplanted" the pound weight, except in Germany. The Brits were using pounds and pennies in Anglo-Saxon days, and used them up until decimalization. The French franc was originally tied to the Livre; Italian Lira is cognate to Livre; et cetera, et cetera. But I've come to expect disinformation from SOME Wikipedia pages, so let's move on.

My real problem is with the claim that "The Mark is traditionally a half pound weight." I see ZERO confirmation of that with Google, excepting LOTS and LOTS of pages which are quoting the above Wikipedia paragraph verbatim. (Here's one of the stupidest such.)
Wiki's Mark_(currency) said:
According to 19th-century sources, it was initially equivalent to 100 pence, but after the Norman Conquest (1066), it was worth 160 pence (13 shillings and 4 pence), two-thirds of a pound sterling.[

Wiki links to this book for its claim: the Danes used 1 mark to denote 100 pennies of money. But that's not 1/2 a pound; it's 5/12 of a pound.

Could it be that some idiotic Wikipedia editor learned that a mark was 8 ounces, was used to thinking only of 16-ounce pounds, called 8 ounces "half a pound" and Wikipedia got copied hither and yon??! Surely not! Can any top-notch Googler set me straight?
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