Wool Weight thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 63, The Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery

Wool Weight

1550-1600 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

By the middle of the 16th century, England had established itself as a major European producer of woollen cloth. Wool from England was thought to be the finest available. Special decorative weights were used to weigh it. Wool weights had holes or loops with which to attach a leather strap so that they could be slung over a beam and counter-balanced with an equivalent weight of wool. Wool weights were made as 7, 14 and 28 lb weights. This particular weight weighs 14lbs. Shield shaped wool weights survive from the reign of Henry VII onwards. This example shows the Royal Arms of England.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cast bronze
Brief Description
Cast bronze weight with the Royal Arms of England
Physical Description
Bronze shield-shaped weight, possibly for weighing wool, cast in relief with the royal arms of England.
Dimensions
  • Height: 19.3cm
  • Width: 13.7cm
  • Depth: 4.5cm
  • Weight: 6.34kg
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Marks and Inscriptions
A sword on either side of the hanging loop, a crowned I in the top left hand corner (James I verification mark), the letter A in the top right corner, M and T in the point of the shield at the bottom, stamped ewer at the tip (mark of the Founders' Company)
Credit line
Lt. Col. G. B. Croft-Lyons Bequest
Object history
Acquired at Cambridge



Historical significance: This object highlights the importance of the wool trade in England in the 16th century. Raw wool from England was a major trade substance from 12th century onwards. Wool from England was thought to be the finest available. From 14th England's trade in wool changed significantly. England stopped its trade with neighbouring France and began to trade with Flanders (in the Netherlands). Flanders had excellent domestic production and trade in wool however political unrest was directly affecting manufacure. Wool workers from Flanders were encouraged to move to England to continue their business. This development saw a change in the way in which England traded. The export of raw wool from England diminished considerably and instead, cloth was worked on in England and exported as a finished product. By the mid 16th century England was a major European producer of woollen cloth and exported its wares to Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Germany.
Historical context
Shield shaped wool weights survive from the reign of Henry VII. Wool weights were often decorative pieces, sometimes featuring the arms of the monarch. This example shows the Royal Arms of England.Wool weights had holes or loops with which to attach a leather strap so that they could be slung over a beam and counter-balanced with an equivalent weight of wool.
Summary
By the middle of the 16th century, England had established itself as a major European producer of woollen cloth. Wool from England was thought to be the finest available. Special decorative weights were used to weigh it. Wool weights had holes or loops with which to attach a leather strap so that they could be slung over a beam and counter-balanced with an equivalent weight of wool. Wool weights were made as 7, 14 and 28 lb weights. This particular weight weighs 14lbs. Shield shaped wool weights survive from the reign of Henry VII onwards. This example shows the Royal Arms of England.
Bibliographic References
  • John Blair and Nigel Ramsey (eds), English Medieval Industries: Craftsmen, Techniques, Products, The Hambledon Press, London, 1991, pp.319-355
  • R.D. Connor, The Weights and Measures of England, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1987, pp.141-143
Collection
Accession Number
M.962-1926

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record createdJune 8, 2007
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