Coin weights

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An inscribed Islamic pound weight from 743. Made of glass, it is one of the oldest earliest Islamic dated objects in an American museum. In the collection of the Walters Art Museum

Coin weights are weights which were designed to weigh coins in order to assure their quality.[1]

The usage of coin weights, especially glass ones, goes back to Ptolemaic and Byzantine times.[1] Coin weights were also known in Ancient China.[2]

In Islamic civilization, where they are called Sanadjāt, coin weights are said to have been introduced by a Jew named Sumair in 694.[1] Up to that point coins were only compared to coins of good quality.[1] Islamic coin weights were made of bronze, iron, and later glass (considered to be unalterable).[1] They bear inscriptions related to Islamic rulers and moneyers and are therefore valuable epigraphical objects.[1]

Coins weights were also known in the Carolingian Empire, where they were stamped with regular coin dyes to clarify their attribution.[3] Islamic coin weights were introduced to Great Britain in the 9-10th century CE through the Vikings.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Arnold, T.W. (1987). Houtsma, M. Th (ed.). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936. Brill. p. 195. ISBN 9789004082656.
  2. ^ Scheidel, Walter (5 February 2009). Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires. Oxford University Press. p. 144. ISBN 9780199714292.
  3. ^ Coupland, Simon (2007). Carolingian Coinage and the Vikings: Studies on Power and Trade in the 9th Century. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 38. ISBN 9780860789918.
  4. ^ "Department of Coins and Medals". British Museum exhibit. Trustees of the British Museum. Retrieved 3 August 2019.