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Re: Please Excuse the Multiple Cuts and Pastes Above

Posted by James Briggs on November 13, 2002

In Reply to: Please Excuse the Multiple Cuts and Pastes Above posted by Bruce Kahl on November 12, 2002

: : : CAN ANYONE OUT THERE SHED SOME LIGHT ON WHERE THIS PHRASE/DESCRIPTION CAME FROM AND THE EXACT MEANING?

: : This system originated in 15th century England, when the "penny" size determined what one paid a blacksmith to forge a hundred nails of that size of nail (one paid three pennies to get a hundred nails of the size called the "3-penny" nail). This price became obsolete before 1500, but has continued to be so entrenched in convention, that its use persists to this day. Now we use it primarily as a measure of length (approximate, at least). We abbreviate the "penny" with the symbol "d", which came from the "denarius", an early Roman coin.

: : Nails are graded (measured) in a system that refers to their size. The unit is called a "penny." The larger the number, the larger the nail. A 3-penny (3 d) nail is much smaller than a 16-penny nail.
: : This system originated in 15th century England, when the "penny" size determined what one paid a blacksmith to forge a hundred nails of that size of nail (one paid three pennies to get a hundred nails of the size called the "3-penny" nail). This price became obsolete before 1500, but has continued to be so entrenched in convention, that its use persists to this day. Now we use it primarily as a measure of length (approximate, at least). We abbreviate the "penny" with the symbol "d", which came from the "denarius", an early Roman coin.

Stangely, here in present day England, nails are not classified this way - at least I've never heard of it. Nails are simply classified by their length; eg 2" until a few years ago, now as 50mm.