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James I weight for a rose ryal

Lee Milan said he had been throwing away some detecting finds from 20 years since when he noticed the item pictured here. He asked if I could identify this find and let him know what it might be worth.

The find is square, made of copper-alloy and has on one side a shield of arms surrounded by a decorated border. On the other side is XXXII with a crown above and a letter S below. There is an indentation in the top-left corner, which isn’t clear but it is probably a crowned letter I for James I.  The Roman numerals and the letter S stand for 32 shillings.

This find is a weight for checking if a gold rose ryal was up to the correct standard. Most of the coin weights dating before 1600 are scarce or rare but they become far more common during the reign of James I. The English economy was expanding and when deals were being done something was needed to check if gold coins were the correct weight. This was why there was a sudden upsurge in demand for coin weights.

All weights for gold ryals aren’t the same. Depending on the value of the coin during the reign of James I they can be marked with XXX, XXXII or XXXIII.    


I recently saw a James I weight for a ryal in very good condition offered for sale by a dealer for £75. Lee’s weight is only in Fair condition so it would be worth much less. However, a keen collector of coin weights should be willing to pay around £20 for it.

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