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Old Feet and Old Pounds

As was noted on the page on units used in printing, just as the point used for printing in the English-speaking countries began as 1/72nd of an inch (but was then adjusted to 0.013837 inches), the Didot point was 1/72nd of the French inch, twelve of which made up a French foot, also known as the Pied du Roi.

Prior to the adoption of the metric system, the basic unit of length used in most of the countries of Europe was a foot of one sort or another, and the basic unit of weight was a pound of one sort or another, these units being inherited from the Roman empire. But in each country, the standards for these units had changed over time, and, so, as the modern era arrived, and it was possible to standardize the units to a higher level of accuracy than achievable in the ancient world, serious differences existed between the units of one country and another.

Some units, such as the mile and the ell, were defined differently in terms of other units in different countries as well.

One old book gave the lengths of the feet used in several different countries and cities as follows:

Spain        11.128
Amsterdam    11.147
Hamburg      11.289
Munich       11.37
Ancient Rome 11.60
Rome         11.72
Sweden       11.684
Rhineland    12.35
Prussia      12.356
Denmark      12.356
France       12.7893
Portugal     12.944
Austria      13.68
Russia       13.75

and, similarly, it gave the weight of the pounds used in different places as:

France       1.08
Spain        1.0144
Portugal     1.0119
Russia        .9026
Prussia      1.0311
Hamburg      1.068
Sweden        .9376
Denmark      1.103
Belgium      1.0893
Rome          .7477
Livorno       .75
Genoa         .76875
Sicily        .7
Naples        .7067
Trieste      1.236
Malta        1.75

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