Cosmetic Grinders (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

These sets, comprising a pestle and mortar, are likely to have been used for grinding small quantities of powders for cosmetic or medicinal use (Leahy and Lewis 2018, 108).  Specific studies have been made by Jackson (1985; 2010), with an analysis of PAS examples by Worrell (2008).

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use COSMETIC MORTAR or COSMETIC PESTLE, accordingly

PAS classification 

For both components, use this field to classify the location of the loop(s), using the following: end looped, centre looped; noting that pestles can also be double looped

Terms to use in the description

For terminology, see Jackson 1985. Note where the loop is (end looped or centre looped) and describe the terminals, which can be plain, knobbed or zoomorphic . A mortar has a bow and a groove; the pestle has a stem. Watch out for wear facets or polish in the groove of the mortar or the underside of the pestle. Also look for decoration on the sides of the mortar; they can have champlevé cells (usually triangular) for enamel.

Date

Such cosmetic grinders date to the late Iron Age and Roman periods (1st century BC-early 2nd century AD).

Examples

Cosmetic grinders, Late Iron Age to Roman: end-looped mortar (left, KENT-BBE22E); end-looped pestle (right, SOM-8CAF0C). Copyright: Kent County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Cosmetic grinders, Late Iron Age to Roman: end-looped mortar (left, KENT-BBE22E); end-looped pestle (right, SOM-8CAF0C). Copyright: Kent County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of cosmetic grinders

Key references

Jackson 1985

Worrell 2008

Jackson 2010

Crossbow bolts (‘quarrels’)

Introduction

Crossbow bolts (sometimes called ‘quarrels’) are a specific form of arrowhead, with a socketed shaft and relatively narrow, piercing blade.  They can have a variety of cross-sections, generally square, but also triangular and other shapes.  Few examples are recorded by the PAS as they are made of iron; many are known archaeologically from castle sites, such as Baile Hill, York (Addyman and Priestley 1977, 138; fig. 10).  Indeed, there is currently only one spanning hook on the database; there is one crossbow nut in bone or antler.

PAS object type to be used

Use CROSSBOW BOLT

Date

These are predominantly medieval  finds.

Examples

Medieval crossbow bolt (LON-94A1F4). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY-SA licence)
Medieval crossbow bolt (LON-94A1F4). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY-SA licence)

Search for all examples of crossbow bolts

Key references

Addyman and Priestley 1977

Apothecaries’ Weights

Introduction

Apothecaries’ weights were used to weigh out ingredients in medicines and potions.  The weight-system used was influenced by the Roman system, and the units were called scruples, drachms and ounces.  There were three scruples to the drachm, and eight drachms to the ounce.  Being generally small square or sub-square weights they can be confused with coin weights.

PAS object type to be used

Use APOTHECARY WEIGHT

Date

Apothecaries’ weights are supposed from the medieval period, and known from the post-medieval period (Biggs 1992, 7-13).  It has been suggested that in the Roman and early-medieval periods that coins were used as weights for such purposes, the early-medieval broad penny being equivalent to one scruple (Biggs and Withers 2000, 50)

Examples

Post-medieval apothecary weight (HAMP-24F4C3). Copyright: Hampshire Cultural Trust; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval apothecary weight (HAMP-24F4C3). Copyright: Hampshire Cultural Trust; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of apothecaries’ weights

Key references

Biggs and Withers 2000

Toggles (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

Toggles have received very little study (see Jackson 1990; nos 83-87).  The ancestral toggle is basically a cylinder with symmetrical mouldings and a short D-shaped loop in the centre of one long edge (e.g. Stead 1991; fig. 46 no. 2; Read 2005, 5-6).  These date to the late Iron Age, while ‘dumbbell’ fasteners are later, Roman objects. 

PAS object type to be used

Use TOGGLE

Date

Most toggles recorded by the PAS date to the Iron Age or early Roman, although later examples may be encountered.  Roman ‘dumbbell’ fasteners date from the late 1st to 3rd century AD.

Examples

Late Iron Age to early Roman toggle (left, HAMP-85188B); Roman 'dumbell' toggle (right, SWYOR-104096). Copyright: Winchester Museums Service; West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; CC-BY-SA licence)
Late Iron Age to early Roman toggle (left, HAMP-85188B); Roman ‘dumbell’ toggle (right, SWYOR-104096). Copyright: Winchester Museums Service; West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; CC-BY-SA licence)

Search for all examples of toggles

Key references

Jackson 1990

Read 2005

Lamp Hangers

Introduction

A group of similar copper-alloy holders with a three-branched base are thought to be likely medieval lamp suspenders.  The three lower arms are equally spaced and each is perforated at the end to hold a chain (see Egan 2010 (1998), 131; fig. 99).  They are attached to a central arm which travels upwards; this is also perforated at its end, presumably for suspension.  The role of a fifth loop, central on the underside, is unclear.  Such an object could also have been used for the suspension of ecclesiastical censers: examples have been found at St Peter’s church, Guestwick, Norfolk (Williams in Rogerson et al. 1987, 73; fig. 50, no. 2) and the Norwich Greyfriars (Huddle in Emery 2007, 153; fig. 5.47, no. SF28).  At present, we are grouping these objects as lamp hangers for ease of retrieval.

A slightly different form can be found illustrated by Read (2016, 129, 132; no. 902).  This has an openwork circular base and four suspension loops (see Examples).

PAS object type to be used

Use LAMP HANGER

Date

One of these branched holders was found in a London context dated to c. 1350-1400 (Egan 2010 (1998), 131; no. 356).  The excavated examples mentioned in the introduction lack firm dating evidence; such objects tend to be dated to the 14th century, though there is nothing diagnostic about their form that would place them solely in this century.

Examples

Medieval lamp hangers (GLO-6B21B4, left; KENT-53768C, right). Copyright: Bristol City Council; Kent County Council; CC-BY licence)
Medieval lamp hangers (GLO-6B21B4, left; KENT-53768C, right). Copyright: Bristol City Council; Kent County Council; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of medieval lamp hangers

Key references

Egan 2010 (1998)

Read 2016

Tweezers (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

There are essentially three types of tweezers, all easy to recognise but hard to date.  First there are those made from sheet, with straight or flaring arms, sometimes with punched or engraved decoration; these can date from the Roman (e.g. Crummy 1983, 58-59; fig. 63) to the medieval period.  Those with slides appear to be medieval (e.g. Egan and Pritchard 2002, 382; fig. 253, no. 1775) although of course the slide will often be missing on a detected find) and there is a suspicion that the widest flaring arms probably date to the middle Anglo-Saxon period (e.g. Tester et al. 2014, 245; fig. 8.10).  Note the angle that the ends turn in at; sometimes this is 90º, sometimes much more gentle.  It may be that eventually this angle can be shown to be of chronological significance.

The second type of tweezers is cast and has decoration based on panels with bevelled edges and areas of engraved geometric ornament.  These never have slides; they look very Roman, but can also be early Anglo-Saxon.  The decoration should be described in as much detail as possible. Examples of this type of tweezers include DUR-82D1AC and SF-1D26E1.

The third type has ends expanded into rectangular terminals and is medieval: they are at present thought to have been to hold the pages of manuscripts, and are discussed in a separate guide called Page Holders.

PAS object type to be used

Use TWEEZERS

Terms to use in the description

Tweezers have a loop and two arms, and the ends of the arms may be bent inwards. The loop often has a broad longitudinal groove. Sometimes they have a slide around the arms which presumably locked the grip.

Date

Tweezers date from the Roman period onwards.

Examples

Search for all examples of tweezers (excluding ‘page holders’)

Key references

Crummy 1983

Egan and Pritchard 2002

Forks

Introduction

In England, people mostly ate using knives, fingers and spoons prior to the post-medieval period (Leahy and Lewis 2018, 180).  Consequently, the PAS has not recorded many table forks; the majority are iron from the 17th century onwards, although a few copper-alloy early-medieval forks have been recorded.  Post-medieval table forks had two prongs initially, with three from the end of the 17th century (Hume 1969, 180); carving forks tend to have two prongs to this day.

PAS object type to be used

Use FORK (UTENSIL)

For toy forks use TOY (see Forsyth with Egan 2005, 134)

Terms to use in the description

Forks have prongs or tines, and handles, the handles often made of organic materials.  The so-called ‘pistol grip’ handle of the 18th century has a bulbous expansion to one side of the terminal which is not functional on forks (e.g. LON-5E31FD); it balanced the blade of the knives they accompanied which curved in the opposite direction at their tips.

Date

Early-medieval forks are rare and tend to be dated to the 9th century.  Post-medieval forks were popular from the late 17th century onwards (Hume 1969, 180); the earliest known English-made dated fork is from 1632/1633.

Early-medieval forks

Extremely rare, recorded early-medieval forks have three prongs and long, narrow handles.  A spoon/fork combination was excavated at Brandon, Suffolk (Tester et al. 2014, 178-179; no. 8230), there dated to the 9th century.  Only two examples have been recorded by the PAS: SF11124 and SF-5C6DE1.

Post-medieval forks

Forks with two prongs used for dining appeared in the second quarter of the 17th century, but only became popular over the next fifty years or so; three prongs became common from the end of that century (Hume 1969, 180).  A fourth prong was present from the mid-18th century (Hume 1969, 180).  Fork handles often followed fashions in the knives they accompanied in sets: see above for the 18th-century ‘pistol grip’ handle.  They were often formed of scale plates made of organic material such as bone, applied to the generally iron fork.

Examples

Post-medieval table fork with 'pistol grip' handle (LON-EB1EA9). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BYlicence)
Post-medieval table fork with ‘pistol grip’ handle (LON-EB1EA9). Copyright: Museum of London; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of forks

Key references

Hume 1969

Page Holders

Introduction

A type of medieval tweezers with significantly expanded arm terminals (c. 45-50 mm in length when complete) may have had a particular function: to hold together several leaves of vellum manuscripts.  The objects can have slides which presumably locked the grip.  Their terminals are generally square, rectangular or trapezoidal, often with punched or engraved decoration.  On the most elaborate examples the terminals were made separately and soldered to the arms; we might only see the terminals (e.g. WAW-A7AC82).  ‘Page holders’ have been found at both ecclesiastical sites, such as Hulton Abbey (Klemperer and Boothroyd 2004, 161, 163; no. 44), and ostensibly secular ones, for example, Pleshey Castle (Williams 1977, 185; fig. 41, no. 9).

PAS object type to be used

Use TWEEZERS

PAS object classification to be used

Add ‘page holder’ to the Classification field

Terms to use in the description

Effectively tweezers, page holders also have a loop and two arms.  Sometimes they have a slide around the arms.  The terminals can be broadly square, rectangular or trapezoidal.

Date

These medieval objects tend to be dated to the 13th and 14th centuries.  An example is known from a context dated to the first half of the 13th century from Winchester (Biddle and Hinton in Biddle 1990, 756; fig. 215, no. 2326A), with another from a broadly 14-century context from the Greyfriars, Norwich (Emery 2007, 144; fig. 5.41).

Examples

Medieval page holders: terminal from a composite example (NMS-D7FBF0, left); with rare, openwork terminals (WAW-112003, centre left); with small, square terminals and slide (SUR-08E177, centre right); with rectangular terminals and slide (SWYOR-272F62, right). Copyright: Norfolk County Council; Birmingham Museums Trust; Surrey County Council; West Yorkshire Archaeology Service CC-BY-SA licence)
Medieval page holders: terminal from a composite example (NMS-D7FBF0, left); with rare, openwork terminals (WAW-112003, centre left); with small, square terminals and slide (SUR-08E177, centre right); with rectangular terminals and slide (SWYOR-272F62, right). Copyright: Norfolk County Council; Birmingham Museums Trust; Surrey County Council; West Yorkshire Archaeology Service CC-BY-SA licence)

Search for all examples of page holders

Key references

Biddle 1990

Spatulae

Introduction

Spatulae are instruments which flare from a handle to a rounded or straightened blade terminal, the latter used for the purposes of spreading.  Most spatulae encountered through the PAS are Roman and were used to spread wax onto wooden writing tablets, and also to clear the recess in the tablet prior to reuse (Leahy and Lewis 2018, 142). Generally what survives is the spatula’s anthropomorphic handle in copper alloy; often the iron blade has corroded away, but do check the slot at the base of the handle for ferrous corrosion products. Many handles take the form of the bust of Minerva (Henig in Timby 1998, 166; fig. 80, no. 2.20), goddess of wisdom and learning: note that Minerva can appear on many other types of object.  Other handle forms are plainer and very rare, and are discussed for Britain by Crummy (2003) (and more generally by Feugère 1995); they tend to have urban or military associations.  The rural context of the PAS findspots comprises significant evidence for literacy, if these artefacts were being used for their primary function  (Worrell 2008, 357). It would seem that other figurative forms of handle noted from elsewhere in the Empire, such as Mercury or Serapis, are not known from Britain.

PAS object type to be used

Use SPATULA

PAS classifications to use

Roman wax spatulae have been classified by Feugère (1995), whose type A5 corresponds to figurative handles, including those depicting Minerva.  The other sub-types of his group A are geometric, while his group B comprises double-ended spatulae. If you can, put the Feugère type in the classification field in the following format: Feugère type A5. Eckardt (2014, Appendix 9) has distinguished three groups within the Romano-British Minerva handles, based on the quality of representation.

Terms to use in the description

Spatulae have a blade and a handle.  The depiction of Minerva shows her helmeted, wearing a Corinthian helmet, but only occasionally is the aegis (Gorgon’s mask) worn over the front of her cuirass present.

Date

The Minerva bust handles (Feugère type A5) tend to be dated to the 2nd century AD to the first half of the 3rd century (Feugère 1995, 331-332).  Other types have been found in earlier contexts, which follows for objects associated with the Roman army and administration (Crummy 2003, 14). 

Examples

Roman spatula handles: Feugère type A5 depicting Minerva (KENT-AE9C22, left); Feugère type A3 (SF9123, right)). Copyright: Kent County Council; Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service; CC-BY licence)
Roman spatula handles: Feugère type A5 depicting Minerva (KENT-AE9C22, left); Feugère type A3 (SF9123, right). Copyright: Kent County Council; Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service; CC-BY licence)
Roman spatula handles of Feugère type A5 depicting Minerva (WILT-9ECD01). Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; CC-BY licence)
Roman spatula handle of Feugère type A5 depicting Minerva (WILT-9ECD01). Copyright: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; CC-BY licence)

Search for all examples of spatulae

Key references

Feugère 1995

Jettons

Introduction

Jettons are metal discs which feature designs and often inscriptions, and which were intended for use as counters for most of the period in which they were produced, that is in the medieval and early post-medieval periods.  Being like a coin in terms of its properties, along with tokens, medals and medallions, jettons are items of ‘paranumismatica’.

Our word ‘jetton’ (on the PAS database it is spelled with two ‘t’s) comes from ‘jeter’, meaning ‘to throw’ in French, and relates to the ‘casting’ of accounts.  The German term ‘rechenpfennig’, or ‘reckoning penny’, also refers to the use of jettons for accountancy purposes.  Most finds of jettons recorded by the PAS are copper alloy, although some silver examples are known, mostly produced overseas.

Jettons facilitated calculations which were otherwise difficult to perform with Roman numerals (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 213).  Sums were carried out using counting boards or cloths which bore a chequered pattern or lines.   Jettons were set on the lines/squares, each line/square having a value in Roman numerals, and moved around the board/cloth to perform addition or subtraction: see Mernick and Algar (in Saunders ed. 2001, 214) figs 76, 77, or Philip Mernick’s website, for illustrations.

From the 1630s, the widespread use of Arabic numerals made accountancy far easier and jettons became redundant for such purposes.  By the 18th century jettons were explicitly used as card counters (‘spielmarken’), although their use in gaming started far earlier.

PAS object type to be used

Use JETTON

It is crucial to use ‘jetton’ as the object type (rather than ‘token’) so that you will be able to enter details into the ‘Jetton/Token data’ section of the database which is important for searches.  Once you have saved the core data form, this section will appear as an option for completion via a separate button.

For jettons that have been converted into something else, use the Object Type term relevant to the latest use, e.g. PIN.

PAS object classification to be used

Leave this field blank, as with most other numismatic or paranumismatic records: relevant data can be entered in the ‘Jetton/Token data’ form.

Terms to use in the description

When recording jettons, the usual numismatic conventions and terms apply, such as writing terms out in full rather than abbreviating.  On the ‘jetton/token’ data form Obverse and Reverse Descriptions can be taken from the reference works, but do check every aspect to make sure that it applies to the jetton that you are recording.  If you can, add reference numbers from Mitchiner (1988).  On the artefact form, the opening sentence can be written in the following format:

A status/completeness/treatment (as applicable) period(s) material class jetton of issuer + dates (if applicable). Type and legend + translation (if applicable) (reference number) dating to date range. Mint. Reference – author, year and page(s).

Some examples of opening sentences –

An incomplete medieval copper-alloy French jetton. Crown type with AVE MARIA GRACIA legend (Mitchiner 532) dating to c. 1385-1461. Mint uncertain. Ref.: Mitchiner (1988, 236)

A post-medieval copper-alloy Nuremberg jetton of Hans Krauwinckel II (active 1586-1635) produced at Nuremberg (Germany). Rose/orb type with HEIT RODT MORGEN TODTT legend (Today red, tomorrow dead) (see Mitchiner 1575) dating to 1586-1635. Ref.: Mitchiner (1988, 345)

To be followed by: details of any piercings including location of etc, dimensions, any other details including condition and wear.

Date

As noted, jettons began in the medieval period and continued to be made in the post-medieval period; depending on local recording capacity, some later jettons might not be recorded.  It is thought that ‘exchequer reckoning’, that is using a cloth to maintain the accounts of the royal household, was devised in the early 12th century (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 214).  However, dedicated counters (i.e. jettons) were not employed until the mid to late 13th century in France and England, with coins used to perform the calculations previously.

In England the earliest jettons are either foreign (French or Italian) or were struck using dies which shared punches with contemporary coins.  Jettons of this ‘sterling series’ can be dated in parallel with the coins with which they share busts.

The majority of jettons recorded are those issued at Nuremberg in the post-medieval period, many of these being the ‘rose/orb’ type as issued by Hans Krauwinckel II; you may wish to go straight to the relevant sub-section.

Medieval jettons

Rather conveniently, most jettons in use in England at a given time came from a particular source.  In the late 13th and early to mid-14th century English jettons predominated.  From around the mid-14th century most jettons used came from France.  In the 15th century, one of the French mints, now located in modern-day Belgium, came to dominate: Tournai.

Finally, we do see a few medieval jettons from Nuremberg (in modern-day Germany), but it was not until the early part of the 16th century that it took over as the major supplier of jettons to England, after which it remained predominant.  These major sources will be discussed in turn, with other sources mentioned at the end of the section.

English jettons

Jettons made in England always have a central punch mark on one face, which is thought to relate to centring the disc during flan production (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 218); sometimes this has developed into a central piercing.  Most, though not all, English jettons are anepigraphic, that is, they lack a legend; sometimes examples that carry legends are nonsensical.

The major works on English jettons are Berry (1974) and by Mernick and Algar (in Saunders ed. 2001); between them they divide the English series into five main groups based on the module, and a further number of types based on design.  An online resource which includes an up-to-date catalogue is curated by Philip Mernick.

In the past many English jettons were termed ‘Anglo-Gallic’ (e.g. by Barnard 1916), but this was before their relationship to coins struck at the Tower mint was established; only a few jettons can now legitimately be called Anglo-Gallic.

The first group, consisting of the so-called ‘sterling’ and allied issues, represents by far the most common type of English jetton.  As noted, these are of similar size to contemporary pennies, but in copper alloy rather than silver, and bear either the same busts (Berry Type 1), or a multitude of other designs (Berry Types 2-20).

Medieval English jettons: Berry Type 1, with sterling bust (left, SOM-277FCA); Berry Type 8, with martlet (centre, HAMP-20FE99); Berry Type 5, with three lions passant (WREX-C3ACAC). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; National Museum Wales; CC-BY licence)
Medieval English jettons: Berry Type 1, with sterling bust (left, SOM-277FCA); Berry Type 8, with martlet (centre, HAMP-20FE99); Berry Type 5, with three lions passant (right, WREX-C3ACAC). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Hampshire Cultural Trust; National Museum Wales; CC-BY licence)

A second group of English jettons are thought to be contemporary with the earliest of the sterling series, but are larger, at c. 25-27mm in diameter.  Their size might relate to the short-lived groat of Edward I (issued 1279-1281).  They might have been used as ‘wardrobe counters’ relating to the king’s personal expenditure (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 222).  Examples often feature a long cross on the reverse with stars and crescents in alternating quarters.  As with groats of Edward I, these large early English jettons were often converted into jewellery items, by the addition of a riveted clip (Bliss 2017; these needs to be recorded under the appropriate Object Type term); it was normally the cross on the reverse which was displayed.

Large medieval English jettons: with sterling bust (left, NMS-7BE2B6); converted into a jewellery item depicting the reverse cross (right, KENT-BB0303). Copyrights: Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service; Kent County Council; CC-BY licence)
Large medieval English jettons: with sterling bust (left, NMS-7BE2B6); converted into a jewellery item depicting the reverse cross (right, KENT-BB0303). Copyrights: Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service; Kent County Council; CC-BY licence)

A third group of English jettons are of a later date.  Their size, bigger than the broadly penny-sized sterling and allied issues, can be related to the coin denominations issued for Edward III in the 1340s, specifically his halfgroat.  The most common reverses in this group are the Standing King and Seated King.  Another fourth group are generally even larger and are thought to be wardrobe counters of the second half of the 14th century.  A final group consists of contemporary copies of jettons (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 224).

Medieval English jettons of later types: Seated king type bust (left, SUR-DDE764); 'Wardrobe' counter (centre, HAMP-21B83D); contemporary copy of the Standing king type. Copyrights: Surrey County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Buckinghamshire County Museum; CC-BY licence)
Medieval English jettons of later types: Seated King type (left, SUR-DDE764); ‘Wardrobe’ counter (centre, HAMP-21B83D); contemporary copy of the Standing King type. Copyrights: Surrey County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Buckinghamshire County Museum; CC-BY licence)

French jettons

Certain jettons made in France are contemporary with those made in England in the second half of the 14th century, and only a very few date earlier.  It is important to note that certain designs – such as the Standing King and Seated King – are seen on both French and English issues as they share the same coin designs as prototypes.  The French jettons can be distinguished from English ones in two ways: the flan will not have a central punch and many feature a legend.

A main feature to look for on French jettons is an elaborate, but generally neat, reverse cross.  These crosses are generally have multiple strands and their arms terminate in lis.  The most common is a triple-stranded straight cross within a double quadrilobe border; less common is a double-stranded arcuate cross (i.e. with incurved sides), with other minor varieties also encountered.

Common reverses on French jettons: Triple-stranded cross fleuretty (left, DOR-0521C5); Double-stranded arcuate cross (right, SOM-0EBB6F). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Somerset County Council; CC-BY licence)
Common reverses on French jettons: Triple-stranded cross fleuretty (left, DOR-0521C5); Double-stranded arcuate cross (right, SOM-0EBB6F). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Somerset County Council; CC-BY licence)

Note that many of the earlier types within the French series are of smaller size and bear an arcuate cross on their reverse.  The classification of French jettons is based on their obverse designs; designs from this early period include the ‘Moor’s head’ type, and small module examples of the ‘Crown’ and ‘Chatel Tournois’ types.  The main series is dominated by obverse designs such as a larger module ‘Crown’ type and the ‘France Modern’ type, depicting a shield with three lis; the ‘France Ancient’ type has more than three lis.  The predominant legend is the Hail Mary, ‘AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA’, often with the final word abbreviated.

Common obverses on French jettons: Moor's Head type (top left, BH-1C59D2); Crown type (bottom left, SWYOR-1698D1); Chatel Tournois type (top right, SF-7BF719); France Modern type (bottom right, CAM-2CBC2C). Copyrights: St. Albans District Council; West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; Suffolk County Council; Cambridgeshire County Council; CC-BY licence)
Common obverses on French jettons: Moor’s Head type (top left, BH-1C59D2); Crown type (bottom left, SWYOR-1698D1); Chatel Tournois type (top right, SF-7BF719); France Modern type (bottom right, CAM-2CBC2C). Copyrights: St. Albans District Council; West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service; Suffolk County Council; Cambridgeshire County Council; CC-BY licence)

Within the French series a number of different mints are represented and it is generally not possible, nor is it required, to identify where a French jetton was struck, be it Paris, Tournai (except later types, described below), Bourges, or elsewhere.  Certain jettons, however, make allusion to the French provinces and might have been struck there.  Examples include the ‘Dolphin’ type (alluding to Dauphiné), the ‘Lamb of God/Berry’ type (alluding to Berry), and the ‘Beast/bear’ type (which may allude to Languedoc).  Overall, French jettons are well documented by both Mitchiner (1988) and Mernick and Algar (in Saunders ed. 2001).

Obverses on French jettons alluding to the provinces: Dolphin type (left, HAMP-49F840); Lamb of Berry type (middle, HAMP-20DC6C); Bear of Languedoc type (right, BH-64D313). Copyrights: Hampshire Cultural Trust; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY licence)
Obverses on French jettons alluding to the provinces: Dolphin type (left, HAMP-49F840); Lamb of Berry type (middle, HAMP-20DC6C); Bear of Languedoc type (right, BH-64D313). Copyrights: Hampshire Cultural Trust; St. Albans District Council; CC-BY licence)

Late Tournai jettons

As noted in the previous section, Tournai (in modern-day Belgium) was an official French mint.  It came to dominate production from the 15th century until the very early 16th century, especially from after c. 1450, and so it is useful to isolate as a separate category following on from the more general French production in this period.

The obverse types ascribable to Tournai in this period fall into two main groups.  The first is a group of derivative French designs.  They are struck more crudely than earlier jettons, and on larger, thicker flans.  In particular, look for Crown types and shields of France Modern, the latter with slightly bulging sides to the shields at their tops (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001).  Other characteristic traits of this group include saltire cross initial marks and the presence of letters on the reverse cusps, rather than florets.

Derivative designs on (late) Tournai jettons: France Modern type (left, DOR-65F098); Crown type (right, IOW-76A9BB). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Derivative designs on (late) Tournai jettons: France Modern type (left, DOR-65F098); Crown type (right, IOW-76A9BB). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

The second group consists of relatively neat jettons with a reverse design of a cross potent with flowers in each angle.  They often have a legend based on ‘SIT NOMEN DOMINI’ (from ‘Sit nomen Domini benedictum’ – ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord’), with the Ns often unbarred.  Obverse types include angular shields, three circles (of Tournai) and monograms (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 257; fig. 85).  This group tends to be dated c. 1475-1525.

Neat, late designs on (late) Tournai jettons: Angular shield type (left, SOM-94C3C0); Three circles type (centre, GLO-DE5894); V monogram type (right, YORYM-2BEE11). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Bristol City Council; York Museums Trust; CC-BY licence)
Neat, late designs on (late) Tournai jettons: Angular shield type (left, SOM-94C3C0); Three circles type (centre, GLO-DE5894); V monogram type (right, YORYM-2BEE11). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Bristol City Council; York Museums Trust; CC-BY licence)

Nuremberg jettons (medieval)

Although Nuremberg dominated later jetton production, its rapid rise came only in the last few decades of the 15th century, at the very end of the medieval period.  The earliest jettons attributable to Nuremberg fall into two groups.  The first are broadly 15th century in date.  They measure c. 19-20 mm in diameter (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 240) and depict local (German) devices such as shields of arms and iconographic motifs (see Mitchiner 1988, 331-344).  The second group are far larger and imitate devices from other locations, such as Burgundy and France (see Mitchiner 1988, 345-351).  The latter continued into the post-medieval period where they were joined by designs which would become far more common , not least the rose/orb jettons.

Medieval Nuremberg jettons: Mainz type (left, LON-2899C0); Mainz/Bavaria type (centre, HAMP-67AC03); Western type (right, PUBLIC-89BCA9). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Winchester Museum Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)
Medieval Nuremberg jettons: Mainz type (left, LON-2899C0); Mainz/Bavaria type (centre, HAMP-67AC03); Western type (right, PUBLIC-89BCA9). Copyrights: The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Winchester Museum Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; CC-BY licence)

Jettons from other sources

Medieval jettons are occasionally encountered from sources other than England, France and Tournai (late).  Chief among these rarer examples are pieces from the Low Countries.  Medieval jettons of the County of Flanders have reverses similar to French types, but feature a rampant lion for the Count on their obverse (see Mitchiner 1988, 250-251).  Most Burgundian jettons somewhere feature a firesteel.  A very few examples are truly Anglo-Gallic (see Mitchiner 1988, 132-133).

Medieval Low Countries jettons: of Louis de Male, Count of Flanders (left, SUR-450277); of Burgundy (right, SUR-DB9E50). Copyrights: Surrey County Council; CC-BY licence)
Medieval Low Countries jettons: of Louis de Male, Count of Flanders (left, SUR-450277); of Burgundy (right, SUR-DB9E50). Copyrights: Surrey County Council; CC-BY licence)

Post-medieval jettons

The majority of jettons encountered (c. 70%) are of post-medieval date, and almost all of these will come from Nuremberg.  Exceptions are jettons whose production continued from the medieval period into the early part of the post-medieval period.  These include those noted above from France, Burgundy and Tournai (late).  Jettons continued to be struck in France and the Low Countries for use in governmental institutions (Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001, 216), and for many of these, such as those relating to the French ‘Chambre des Comptes’, Mitchiner (1991) can be consulted.

Nuremberg jettons (post-medieval)

Post-medieval jettons from Nuremberg can be broadly divided by their obverse design, the most common one being crowns and lis alternating around a central rose.  These designs, which also include the Lion of St Mark and the ‘ship-penny’, tend to be paired with an orb within an elaborate trilobe on the reverse.

The issues of Nuremberg can also be divided between early examples which feature fictitious legends, dating to the first three quarters of the 16th century, and examples from c. 1550 onwards which are signed by their manufacturers, the most prolific of which being the Krauwinckels, the Schultes family and the Lauffers.  These are looked at separately and in detail below.

After the middle of the 17th century copper-alloy jettons ceased to have an accountancy function, and tended to be used in gaming and gambling instead (Read 1995, 106).  They, and 18th-century examples, can still be interesting to record.

Early to mid 16th-century Nuremberg jettons

Early examples of the main series of Nuremberg jettons have various features by which they can be distinguished from later examples.  They are anonymous, with fictitious legends, rather than signed by their manufacturer.  The script used is primarily Lombardic (Egan 2005, 174).  On the reverse, the orb can be notably large or crudely rendered; there can be items around the orb’s border.  Note that for rose/orb types, early examples can have annulets on the tips of the crowns, and five petals to the rose on the obverse.

Post-medieval Nuremberg jettons of the early-mid 16th century: Lion of St Mark type (left, DOR-0DC577); Rose/orb type (right, SUR-4A8F60). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Surrey County Council; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval Nuremberg jettons of the early-mid 16th century: Lion of St Mark type (left, DOR-0DC577); Rose/orb type (right, SUR-4A8F60). Copyrights: Somerset County Council; Surrey County Council; CC-BY licence)

Mid 16th-century to 18th-century Nuremberg jettons

From the 1550s onwards jettons started to be signed by their issuers (these people are generally referred to as ‘masters’); from the 1580s jettons became far neater, following minting reforms (Mitchiner 1988, 377).  The post-reform jettons have neat designs, literate inscriptions formed of Roman lettering and regular die axis measurements; roses tend to be formed of either eight petals or six bilobed petals.  The rose/orb type is very commonly encountered, and those issued by Hans Krauwinckel II some of the most frequently found (see below).

From the mid-16th century jettons were increasingly used for gaming; all the more so as they began to lose their accountancy function from the second quarter of the 17th century.  Nuremberg jettons of the 17th and 18th centuries have a variety of designs, some allegorical, others in imitation of presentation pieces or ‘show’ jettons relating to countries such as England and France.

Nuremberg jettons of Hans Krauwinckel II

Hans Krauwinckel II (active 1586-1635) is one of the most commonly found issuers in England and his rose/orb jettons can be further divided by inscription, the most common of which are listed below:

GLVCK BESCHERT IST VNGEWERT – Fortune given is not guaranteed (Mitchiner nos 1508-1511)

VERBVM DOMINI MANET IN ETERNVM – The word of God remains eternal (Latin) (Mitchiner nos 1512-1517)

GOTT ALLEIN DIE EERE SEI – To God alone be the glory (Mitchiner nos 1518-1533)

DAS WORT GOTES BLEIBT EWICK – The word of God endures forever (Mitchiner nos 1540-1552)

GOTES GABEN SOL MAN LOB – One should praise God’s gifts (Mitchiner nos 1534-1539)

GOTES REICH BLEIBT EWICK – God’s Kingdom endures forever (Mitchiner nos 1540-1552)

GOTES SEGEN MACHT REICH – God’s blessing maketh rich (from Proverbs 10, 22) (Mitchiner nos 1553-1573)

HEIT RODT MORGEN TODTT – Today red, tomorrow dead (Mitchiner nos 1574-1589)

Post-medieval Nuremberg jetton: 'Gottes gaben' legend on rose/orb type of Hans Krauwinckel II (HAMP-9351E8). Copyright: Hampshire Cultural Trust; CC-BY licence)
Post-medieval Nuremberg jetton: ‘Gottes gaben’ legend on rose/orb type of Hans Krauwinckel II (HAMP-9351E8). Copyright: Hampshire Cultural Trust; CC-BY licence)

Examples

Please see the period-specific sub-sections (above) for sample images

Search for all examples of jettons

Key references

Mernick and Algar in Saunders ed. 2001

Mitchiner 1988

Berry 1974