Loading

Pile of weights weighing 50 marcs, known as ‘Charlemagne’s pile’

AnonymousEnd of the 15th century

Musée des arts et métiers

Musée des arts et métiers
Paris, France

While there was a certain uniformity in measurement units during the Gallo-Roman period, the extreme fragmentation of medieval France’s territories led to the coexistence of a wide variety of units in the late 18th century. The same denomination could mean several things – the foot was longer in Lyon than in Paris – and this posed enormous problems in trade and in administrative and fiscal controls, becoming a recurrent source of discontent. Units often had picturesque names: the point (truchet point), ligne (line), pouce (inch), pied-de-roi (foot) and toise (fathom) for lengths (in Paris, a pied-de-roi measured 12 pouces or 325 millimetres); the pinte, velte and muid for liquids (the pinte is the equivalent of 930 centilitres); the litron, boisseau and setier for grain and dry commodities; the grain, denier, gros, once, marc and livre des poids de marc for weights (the livre weighs 489.5 grams). The museum has ‘Charlemagne’s pile’, a copy of an ancient set of weights now lost. The weights are piled on top of each other and weigh a total of 50 marcs (slightly more than 12 kilograms).

Details

  • Title: Pile of weights weighing 50 marcs, known as ‘Charlemagne’s pile’
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date: End of the 15th century
  • Date Created: End of the 15th century
  • Location: France
  • Provenance: Musée des arts et métiers
  • Contributor: Author: Lionel Dufaux. English translation: David Wharry
  • Inventory number: Inv. 03261
  • Credits: © Musée des arts et métiers-Cnam/Sylvain Pelly

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Recommended

Google apps