French Style Jetton Obverse and Reverse
French Style Jetton

This is a one of a kind artifact in the Jamestown Collection, although it is closely related to another, similar artifact. It is a jetton dated 1615, and it includes symbolism commemorating the coronation of Louis XIII. Louis XIII became King of France on October 17th 1610 at Rheims.

On the obverse side is a crowned bust of Louis XIII facing to the right, with the legend LVDO XIII D.G.FR.ET NA. (REX CHRISTIANAE), meaning, “Louis XIII by the grace of God most Christian King of France and Navarre”

On the reverse side is a city view of Rheims. From the clouds above a hand is lowering an ampulla, the holy container for the oil of consecration. Below the image, the letters RHEMIS.WL indicate the city pictured, and the initials of the maker, jetton master Wolf Lauffer II. Below this is the date, 1615. The legend reads: FRANC DATA MVNERA COELI XVII OCT, meaning “The French have received a gift from Heaven, 17th October”

Jetton master Wolf Lauffer II based his jetton on a design created by the jetton master Hans Krauwinckel II.  Both jetton masters produced jettons from Nuremberg Germany, but these jettons were likely made to be sold to a French market, similar to the Lion of St. Mark jettons, which were produced with Venetian symbolism for the market in Venice. Krauwinckel II based his original design on issues of commemorative medallions that Louis XIII himself likely approved and may have played a part in his coronation ceremony. 

Lauffer was working between 1612 and his death in 1651, and Krauwinckel was working from 1586-1635. Perhaps both masters knew this was a popular design and doubled up on production together. Or this sharing of design could have been because Krauwinckel was Lauffer’s brother in law, having married his sister Barbara. 

Interestingly, this jetton is dated 1615, which is the year that Louis XIII married Anne of Austria. Anne was the daughter of Philip III of Spain, making this alliance one that the Protestant English were not fond of. Another jetton found at Jamestown commemorates Louis and Anne’s marriage. Perhaps these two jettons traveled to Virginia in the pocket of someone who had recently been in France, or maybe these jettons never made it to the French market and traveled to Jamestown directly from Germany.

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