Recently I was weighting stuff with my dad and as I was playing with one of the old 2 kg weights I felt with my fingers number "5". After cleaning and upon further inspection it turned out the writing on the weight says "5Φ". We checked and it indeed weights 2 kg as my dad remembered. It was done with a simple balance scale by comparing with another weight of similar age that is properly marked as "2 kg". There are no other marks on that weight. On the opposite side is a bulge but it's an irregular blob - I think it's remainder of sprue.

So, question that arised in my head is - what does that Φ mean? Is it some rare unit of mass? Some sort of preferred series or standard for weights?
I was looking for answers and found nothing. I ruled out pounds that was first thing that came to my mind because the difference was to big (5 pounds is approx. 2.26 kg) - though there are some signs of wear and corrosion it's in rather good shape and I don't believe it weighted 0.26 kg more originally. Also, considering I'm from Poland and the weight is really old it probably was made during the soviet era (maybe even in USSR) - so that phi could be actually cyrilic fe - but that also gave me no results.

As a last resort I decided to ask here - maybe some member of that community will know the answer. Below is a photo of the weight in question.

photo of the weight in question


1 Answer 1


You are probably right (it being of Russian origin).

The weight seems to be 5 funt.

1 funt is the Russian equivalent of a pound. It is written as Фунт, funt, and around 1900 it was the basic unit of weight measurement in Russia (so it survived in the USSR days), but now its obsolete.

1 Φ is about 409.5 grams.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Its 5Φ, so 2.045kg $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    May 11, 2021 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ @SolarMike considering the wear/tolerance both of this weight and one used for checking as well accuracy of measurement with simple balance scale 2.045kg is close enough I'd say. $\endgroup$
    – elementiro
    May 11, 2021 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ And don't discount the possibility that it was lightened to work in the seller's favour. $\endgroup$
    – Transistor
    May 12, 2021 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Yes; and a sligtly more familiar and common Russian unit of the same era is Pood (пуд) = 40 funt = 16.38 kg. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    May 13, 2021 at 9:18
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    $\begingroup$ @AdamV: Almost. In Gemany, the "old" units are converted to their nearest metric equivalent, by rounding generously. Thus, a "Pfund" is generally understood to be 500 grams (At least in south Germany, can't speak for the north). Or a "Zentner" (which is about equivalent to a hundredweight) is 100 pounds and therefore considered equal to 50 kg. So getting only 400 grams at the butcher's if you order a "Pfund" is not common. $\endgroup$ May 14, 2021 at 6:27

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