History of Money – Weights and Measures – Part Three

In the early 1900’s Thomas Parker became interested in a metric system of weights and measures and also advocated the introduction of decimal coinage. He campaigned vigorously for a British decimal system based on existing British units, rather than the European ones.

To illustrate the benefits of decimal coinage, he manufactured some aluminium pattern coins and distributed them to some of his business associates and to Members of Parliament. His 5 thousandths of a pound coin was just over an inch in diameter and his one thousandth of a pound coin a little smaller. On one side were the words KING EDWARD VII – 1901 and on the other ONE THOUSANDTH OF A POUND STERLING or FIVE THOUSANDTHS OF A POUND STERLING etc. He thought that nickel should be used for 10, 50, and 100 thousandths of a pound coins. The Patterns were jocularly known among his family and friends as “Tom Parker’s pennies”.

Tom Parker’s Pennies:

Heads

Heads

Tails

Tails

His metric system of weights and measures was based on the inch. He cast a one inch aluminium cube that weighed exactly the same as one cubic inch of water at 4 degrees centigrade. After casting, it was accurately filed by one of his sons and became the primary unit of linear, square and cubic measurement, and also of weight. He carried it with him everywhere and played it as a trump card in many arguments concerning British weights and measures.

Read Norman Biggs
article on 
Thomas Parker’s Inch Weights
An advert for Thomas’s “British Grain Weights”.Courtesy of the library and archives of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, at Coalbrookdale.

 

A box of Thomas’s inch weights.Courtesy of the library and archives of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, at Coalbrookdale.
Another box of inch weights.Courtesy of the library and archives of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, at Coalbrookdale.
Some of Thomas’s booklets advertising his coins and weights.Courtesy of the library and archives of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, at Coalbrookdale.

At the top of the above photograph is a leather wallet, containing a booklet and sample coins. Thomas gave one to every Member of Parliament in the hope of gaining support for his decimal system. Thomas’s grandson, Clive Parker, also attempted to interest people in Thomas’s system in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At this time only one of the wallets still survived. It was lent to G.W. Proudfoot, M.P. and he put it on display in the House of Commons library.

 Ace History News – Related Articles:

https://britainshistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/history-of-weights-and-measures/

https://britainshistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/history-of-trading-standards-weights-and-measures-part-two/

https://britainshistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/history-of-money-weights-and-measures-part-three/

https://britainshistory.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/history-of-food-weights-and-measures-part-four/

 

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