On Page 41, book 1 of the Wealth of Nations Adam Smith writes:
(Second volume of The Glasgow Edition of the works and Correspondence of Adam Smith)
[...] Abraham weighs to Ephron the four hundred shekels of silver which he had agreed to pay for the field of Machpelah. They are said, however, to be the current money of the merchant, and yet are received by weight and not by tale, in the same manner as ingots of gold and bars of silver are at present. The revenues of the ancient Saxon kings of England are said to have been paid, not in money but in kind, that is, in victuals and provisions of all sorts. William the Conqueror introduced the custom of paying them in money. This money, however, was, for a long time, received at the exchequer, by weight and not by tale. [bold styling added by me]
I take it that the context is to appraise the value of the money being received, i.e. "by weight (of the precious metal) and not by tale".
So then what does it mean to appraise the value of some quantity of money by tale?