obverse and reverse of a copper alloy jetton
Obverse and reverse of a Lion of St. Mark jetton

Only 12 jettons out of a total of about 500 in the Jamestown collection depict the Lion of St. Mark. Similar to other jetton types, the reverse side depicts the imperial orb within a trilobe. The surrounding letters record the maker and the location where the jetton was made.

The obverse side depicts a winged lion holding a book, with the letters MARCVS EVANGELLIST GOTT (“St. Mark, Evangelist of God”) surrounding. The winged lion symbol is associated with St. Mark because according to ancient legend, while taking refuge from a storm in the city of Venice, Mark was visited in a dream by an angel in the form of a winged lion. The lion exclaimed in Latin “Pax tibi Marce Evangelista meus, hic requiescet corpus tuum” (“Peace to you, Mark, my Evangelist. Here will rest your body”). Mark later died in Egypt, but in the 9th century two Venetian merchants offered the relics of St. Mark to the Doge of Venice. A grand basilica which still stands today was built next to the Doge’s palace to house the relics and the winged lion of St. Mark became a symbol of the city. The winged lion of St. Mark is seen in the city’s coat of arms and on coinage. The use of this symbol on these jettons suggests that they were intended to be used in Venetian markets.

These types of jettons were made by a few different makers, which means that although they depict similar figures, different jettons could date to different periods of manufacture. Two jettons are very worn and their markings are unclear so the maker is unknown. Six jettons of the Lion of St. Mark type, including the one pictured above, bear the name of Hans Krauwinckel I, a master jetton maker who worked in 1562 and died in 1586. As you can see in the image above, the decorative lines that surround the orb are very decorative, with points and scrolling designs. This is characteristic of jettons made by Hans Krauwinckle I.

One jetton of the Lion of St. Mark type was made by Hans Schultes II who made jettons beginning in 1586 until his death in 1603 and represents the only jetton in the Jamestown collection made by a member of the Schultes family. Three lion of St. Mark jettons were made by Egidius Krauwinckel, who made jettons beginning in 1670 until he died in 1613. The jettons made by Egidius have a plainer trilobe design surrounding the orb on the reverse, as you can see in the images below. Thus, most of these casting counters predate the settlement of 1607 James Fort, some likely by almost 30 years! 

related images