1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mark

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MARK, a word of which the principal meanings are in their probable order of development,—boundary, an object set up to indicate a boundary or position; hence a sign or token, impression or trace. The word in O. Eng. is mearc, and appears in all Teutonic languages, cf. Du. merk, Ger. Mark, boundary, marke, sign, impression; Romanic languages have borrowed the word, cf. Fr. marque, Ital. marca. Cognate forms outside Teutonic have been found in Lat. margo, “margin,” and Pers. marz, boundary. Others would refer to the Lith. margas, striped, parti-coloured, and Sanskrit marga, trace, especially of hunted game. In the sense of boundary, or a tract of country on or near a boundary or frontier, “mark” in English usage proper is obsolete, and “march” (q.v.) has established itself. It still remains, however, to represent the German mark, a tract of land held in common by a village community (see Mark System), and also historically the name of certain principalities, such as the mark of Brandenburg. The Italian marca is also sometimes rendered by “mark,” as in the mark of Ancona.

Mark is also the name of a modern silver coin of the German empire. This is apparently a distinct word and not of Teutonic origin; it is found in all Teutonic and Romanic languages, Latinized as marca or marcus. The mark was originally a measure of weight only for gold and silver and was common throughout western Europe and was equivalent to 8 oz. The variations, however, throughout the middle ages were considerable (see Du Cange, Gloss. med. et infim. Lat., s.v. Marca for a full list). In England the “mark” was never a coin, but a money of account only, and apparently came into use in the 10th century through the Danes. It first was taken as equal to 100 pennies, but after the Norman Conquest was equal to 160 pennies (20 pennies to the oz.) = 2/3 of the pound sterling, or 13s. 4d., and therefore in Scotland 131/2d. English; the mark (merk) Scots was a silver coin of this value, issued first in 1570 and afterwards in 1663. The modern German mark was adopted in 1873 as the standard of value and the money of account. It is of the value of 6.146 grains of gold, 900 fine, and is equal to English standard gold of the value of 11.747 pence. The modern silver coin, nearly equal in value to the English shilling, was first issued in 1875. (See Numismatics, § iv.)