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 in parts of Europe in the 11th century. The Mark is traditionally divided into 8 ounces or 16 lots. The Cologne mark corresponded to about 234 grams.
Origin of the term
The etymological dictionary by Wolfgang Pfeifer sees the Old High German marc, "delimitation, sign", as the stem and assumes that marc originally meant "minting" (marking of a certain weight), later denoting the ingot itself and its weight, and finally a coin of a certain weight and value.
According to an 1848 trade lexicon, the term Gewichtsmark comes from the fact that "the piece of metal used for weighing was stamped with a sign or symbol". Meyer's 1905 Konversationslexikon similarly derives the origin of the word to the emergence of the mark from the Roman pound of to 11 ounces. Charlemagne, as King of the Franks, carried out a monetary and measures reform towards the end of the 8th century. In particular, he had introduced the Karlspfund ("Charles pound") as the basic unit of coinage and trade which, however, weighed only 8 ounces. In order to prevent a further reduction in the weight of a pound, a sign, the mark, was now stamped on the new weights. The actual weight of these weights, known as marca, is said to have fluctuated between 196 g and 280 g.
- Kluge, Friedrich (2012). Etymological Dictionary of the German Language. 25th edition, edited by Elmar Seebold, Berlin/Boston, ISBN 978-3-11-022364-4, p. 602 (Google Books).
- Etymological Dictionary of the Germans, prepared under the direction of Wolfgang Pfeifer. Berlin 1989, reprinted several times since (c.f. "Mark", provided by the Digital Dictionary of the German Language, retrieved 9 January 2020).
- Wilhelm Binder: Allgemeine Realencyclopädie oder Conversationslexicon für das katholische Deutschland. Volume 6. Regensburg 1848, p. 1133 (digitalised).
- Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1905. Volume 13,-1905/K/meyers-1905-013-0317 p. 317 (digital copy).