four copper alloy jettons

More than 500 of these coin-like objects made in Nuremberg, Germany have been found in the features of James Fort. This is the largest number of jettons recovered from a single site in all of North America. Jettons (or casting counters) were used with a gridded table or cloth to aid in accounting because of the scarcity of pencil lead and paper. Similar to an abacus, the jettons were moved over the lines and spaces representing decimal units. This visual arithmetic eased the complicated maneuvers needed for multiplying and dividing Roman numerals but it was still a tedious process. Arabic numbers simplified calculations but they were slow to be adopted by the general public. As Arabic numbers became more popularly used, jettons were adapted for use as gaming tokens.

At Jamestown, the jettons were used to track goods moving in and out of both the company storehouse that also functioned as a warehouse, and the factory which may have served as a trading outpost outside the walls of James Fort. Jettons at Jamestown were used in trade exchanges not only between Englishmen, but likely also in exchange with Native Virginian Indians, helping to keep track of both imported and locally provided goods. Pierced jettons found at Jamestown indicate that these casting counters may have been repurposed to be worn, although these holes could have also been made to ensure the jettons were not confused as currency or to easily transport them strung together. In total, 13 different types of jettons have been found at Jamestown.

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