Standard Elizabethan weights, 1558-1582.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The reigns of the Tudor monarchs in the late 15th and 16th centuries witnesed rapid economic growth, necesitating the establishment of standard weights and measures. Under Henry VII (1457-1509) new Exchequer standards of weight, length and capacity were made for merchants and copies were sent to 43 shire towns in England. Elizabeth I (1533-1603) isued three sets of standard weights during her reign, which began in 1558. The third set, made in 1582, were so succesful that they remained the primary standards until 1824. These are standard avoirdupois weights of 8, 4, 2 and 1lb. The avoirdupois system is based on a pound of 16 ounces or 7000 grains.