Pieces are often encountered in which the designs resemble gold coins but are made of brass and are smaller but thicker in format. These are coin weights, designed to enable the owner to check that any gold coins offered to him were of the correct weight and unimpaired. Some pieces have the same function but do not imitate the design of the coins themselves but show merely the weight or value or both.

      When gold coins were exchanged at their intrinsic values they could be regularly used outside their countries of origin, and British coin weights were made for the more common foreign coins as well as the indigenous currency.