The New Student's Reference Work/Pound
Pound, the English form of the Latin word, pondus, meaning weight, is now used in two distinct senses, first, a gold coin having the value of 20 shillings and, second, a standard of mass, equivalent to 7000. grains or 0.45359265 kilograms. The standard pound is not a “weight,” but a “mass,” and is kept at the Standard's office in London. The pound described above is the avoirdupois pound; the troy pound used only rarely by dealers in precious stones and metals has 5760. grains. The old English pound, which is said to have been the standard of weight from William the Conqueror to Henry VII, was derived from the weight of 7,680 grains of wheat all taken from the middle of the ear and well-dried. The pound weight of silver, the common money standard among the ancient Romans, was introduced by them into the countries which they conquered, and thus the term “pound” became the designation of a certain amount of coined money. The English pound is now considered as the simple equivalent in value of 20 shillings; but it originally denoted the actual pound of silver that was coined into 20 shillings. From the time of Edward II the coins were more and more diminished in size until the reign of George I, when the pound (in weight) of silver was coined into 66 shillings; and this rate still continues, the term “pound” meaning 20 of these shillings.