marc or mark

See also: marco

Generally one of various European units of mass, almost all equal to half of the local version of the pound and 8 of the local version of the ounce, and most used for precious metals.


The mark of Cologne, a unit of mass, about 233.77 grams. opens a new page containing a chart that shows relationships between this unit and other units in its system This mark was basis of units throughout Europe, even as far away as England, where it was identical to the Tower mark.



The Cologne Mark was, by an edict of the Emperor Charles 5th, in 1524, declared the standard weight for the precious metals throughout Germany, and copies were then deposited in the principal cities of the Empire; but in 1767 they were found by M. Tillet (Encyclopédia des Sciences, Supplement, Tome 4.) to have varied in several places from their original uniformity; and even the weight of the archetype kept at Cologne is differently stated by the most accredited authors on the subject, who vary in their reports of its contents from 3606 to 3612 English Grains.

According to the experiments lately made at the London Mint on the Cologne Mark transmitted to Lord Castlereagh by Joseph Charles Mellish, Esq. his Majesty's Consul General at Hamburgh, it was found to weigh 3608 English Grains; which perfectly agrees with the computations of Kruse.

It should be observed that the Cologne Mark, which is intended to be the basis of the new Prussian System, is 1 Grain heavier than the Mark used at Hamburgh.

Kelly, page 71.


In Londra si à 2 maniere di pesare argento, cioé il marchio della zecca della Torre di Londra, che è appunto col marchio di Cologna della Magna, e l'altro so è il marchio degli orfevori cioè degli orafi di Londra, ch'è più forte e più grande marco che quello della Torre sterlini 5 e 1/3, di sterlini 20 per 1 oncia e d'once 8 per 1 marco.

In London there are two ways of weighing silver, that is, by the mark of the mint of the Tower of London, which is exactly equal to the mark of Cologne, and the other is the mark of the goldsmiths of London, which is larger than that of the Tower by 5 1/3 sterlings, of 20 sterlings to the ounce and 8 ounces to the mark.

Pegolotti, page 255 of the edition edited by Evans.


Alla zecca di Colonia il valore del Marco (kölnische Mark) era il suddetto (grammi 233,812300) colle stesse suddivisioni; ma quando esso Marco veniva adottato, in seguito alla Convenzione monetaria deI 30 luglio 1838 fra i diversi Stati dello Zollverein, come peso campione delle monete in tutta la Germania, esso era valutato grammi 233,855500, conservando lo stesso nome di Marco di Colonia; ma chiamavasi anche Vereinsmark o preussische Mark.

At the mint in Cologne the value of the Mark (the mark of Cologne) was the above-mentioned 233.812300 grams, with these subdivisions; but when this Mark came to be adopted as a consequence of the monetary convention of 30 July 1838 between the various states of the Zollverein, taking into account monetary standard weights from all over Germany, it was valued at 233.855500 grams, retaining the same name, mark of Cologne, but also calling it the Vereinsmark or Preussische Mark.

Martini, page 163.


Ein lehrreiches Beispiel für diese Wahrnehmungen bildet die Geschichte des kölnischen Gewichtsnormales im Mittelalter, man muss sagen, der sogenannten Kölner Mark, denn eigentlich wusste nach der Verbreitung dieser Gewichtseinheit über den ganzen Handelskreis des Mittelalters wohl Niemand mehr so recht zu sagen, auf welches leitende Normale dieselbe zurückzuführen sei. Sie war im Norden wie im Süden und durch das ganze Handelsgebiet des Mittelmeeres die allgemeine Grundlage für die so überaus wichtige Silberwägung geworden, ohne dass man dabei an einem gerade zu Köln oder sonstwo aufbewahrten leitenden Gewichtsstücke festgehalten hätte. So konnte es geschehen, dass um den Besitz der wahren Kölner Mark sich zu verschiedenen Malen Streit erhob, wie im 16. Jahrhundert auf einer Tagsatzung des westphälischen Kreises zwischen den Kölner Räthen und anderen Abgeordneten⁴⁶¹), oder auf einem Münztage zu Augsburg vom Jahre 1761, wo jeder Wardein seine eigene kölnische Mark bei sich hatte⁴⁶²), ja dass man schliesslich von den Differenzen dieses Normales durch Reform nicht völlig mehr abkommen konnte und dazu gelangte, von einer örtlichen, zum Beispiel einer „Wiener kölnischen Mark" zu sprechen.

461) Budelius [RENÉ BUDEL], De monetis [et re numaria] pag. 67 Nr. 18.

A pdf of the 1591 edition can be downloaded at In it, the relevant passage is in section 18 at page 76 of book 1.

462) Hirsch, Münz-Archiv VIII, 302.

An instructive example for these observations is the history of the Cologne weight standard in the Middle Ages. One has to say, the “so-called” mark of Cologne, because after the spread of this weight unit across the entire trading zone of the Middle Ages, no one really knew any longer to which official standard the unit could be traced. In the north as well as in the south and throughout the entire trading area of the Mediterranean, it had become the general basis for the extremely important weighing of silver, without any reference being made to a weight standard that had been kept at Cologne or elsewhere. Thus on various occasions disputes arose over the possession of the true mark of Cologne, such as in the 16th century at a meeting of the Westphalian circle between the Cologne councilors and other representatives⁴⁶¹), or at a mint festival in Augsburg in 1761, where every assay-master had his own mark of Cologne with him⁴⁶²). In the end reform could no longer completely resolve the differences in this standard, and people came to speak of local versions, for example a "Vienna Cologne mark".

Alfred Nagl.
Die Goldwährung und die handelsmässige Geldrechnung im Mittelalter. [continued from NZ vol 26, 1894]
Numismatische Zeitschrift, vol 30, 1899, pages 237-282. 241


In Dutch troy weight, the mark trooisch, a unit of mass, about 246.08 grams. In addition to the subdivisions shown in the linked table, for pearls and diamonds the mark trooisch was divided into 1200 carats, 7½ of which made an engel.

The mark trooisch was also used in Antwerp, Brussels and Malines, divided into 8 onces = 160 esterlins or engels = 640 félins = 5120 as.

Doursther (1840).


In France, 12ᵗʰ century¹ – late 18ᵗʰ century, a unit of mass, in Paris about 244.753 grams. link to a chart showing relationships between poids de marc units

Location marc
La Rochelle 244.75
Limoges 240.93
Tours 237.87
Troyes 260.05
Montpellier 239.12

In the Système Usuel, the marc was 250 grams.

1. F. Bailly.
Notice sur les anciennes mesures de Bourgogne.
Société d'histoire, d'archéologie et de littérature de l'arrondisment de Beaune. (1905)

Page 292.


Sweden, 0.4645 pounds av.


In Austria, the Wiener Mark, a unit of mass used for silver. Article 4 of the law¹ establishing the metric system in Austria specified that the Wiener Mark was equivalent to 0.280668 gram.

1. Gesetz of 23 July 1871, R.G.B 1872, No. 16. The law is reproduced in
Georg Thaa.
Das Mass- und Gewichtwesen und der Richdienst in Österreich.
Volume 13 of Taschenausgabe de Österreichischen Gesetze.
Vienna: Munz'sche k. u. k. Hof- Verlags- und Universitats-Buchhandlung, 1900.


In England, the mark, 15ᵗʰ century, a unit of count for certain types of metal goods, such as scissors, = 24.

...1 dozen buckles, 1 pound saffron, 3 marks ironware, 1 dozen needles...

H. S. Cobb, editor.
The Overseas Trade of London. Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480-1.
London Record Society, 1990.
Entry 180, page 62.

...sheres for sempsters the mark conteyning two dozen...

Thomas Stuart Willan, editor.
A Tudor Book of Rates.
Publications of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Manchester; no. 13.
Manchester (UK): University of Manchester Press, 1962.
Reprinted New York: Kelley, 1967.
Page 53.


In England, the marke, a unit of mass equal to 8 ounces or half a pound.


In England wee commonly use two kinde of weights, as Troy and Averdupois : by the Troy weight we weigh wheat, bread, gold, silver, and such like, and this Troy weight containes in every pound 12 ounces, every ounce 20 peny weight, every peny weight 24 graines, whereby a Marke weight is 80 ounces, as in the insuing Table.

Arthur Hopton.
A concordancy of yeares : Containing a new, easie, and etc.
[London]: Printed for the Company of Stationers, 1612.
Page 159.

Neither the mark nor the numeral “80” appear in the “insuing Table.” Hopton's chapter contains several obvious typesetting errors; for example, page 164 speaks of “foure skins in the Timber”, when a timber is 40 skins. “80” is probably a misprint for “8”.


Gold and Silver thred counterfeite voc..
    French copper gold & silver the marke cont. eight ounces Avoir du poiz
    Lyons copper gold & silver double gilt the marke cont. eight ounces Haber de poiz
Gold & silver thred right vocat.
    Venice Florance or Millane gold & silver ye pound cont. xij ounces Venice weight
    French and Paris gold & silver the marke cont. eleven ounces & ½ Venice weight

“A Subsidy granted to the King of Tonnage and Poundage and other summes of Money payable upon Merchandize Exported and Imported.”
A statute from the 12th year of Charles II, 1660. The selection is from the Booke of Rates, which is not part of the statute proper but developed from it. Both are printed in:
Statutes of the Realm, Volume 5: 1628-80, John Raithby, editor.
London: 1819.
Page 192.

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