100656 | FRANCE & GREAT BRITAIN. Henri I & P. Vergilius Maro silver Jeton.
100656 | FRANCE & GREAT BRITAIN. Henri I de France & P. Vergilius Maro silver faux-engraved Jeton or Gaming Counter. Issued circa 1640. Series 7: Classical Portraits (24mm, 2.20 g, 1h). By the school of Simon van der Passe.
HENRICVS D G FRAN REX, bareheaded and armored bust of Henri right / VERGILLVS MARO, laureate head of Vergil right.
Mitchener –. Good Very Fine. Lightly toned. Extremely rare.
Gambling and games of chance have served as a form of entertainment and excitement during much of recorded history in one way or another, and many of these games necessitate some form of accounting during play. In early modern Europe, jetons were commonly employed for these purposes and allowed for skilled engravers to promote their artistry. One such engraver was Simon van der Passe, born in Utrecht circa 1585.
Van der Passe worked in England from 1616–1621/2, having founded a school after being exempted from the royal monopoly given previously to Nicholas Hilliard. This exemption allowed for the "graving and imprinting medailles" and small portraits of the king, and van der Passe utilized his technique for the production of numerous series of jetons or gaming counters, initially employing portraits of the Stuarts, James I and later Charles I with his wife, Henrietta Maria. Though Simon would return to Holland in 1621/2, his London-based school continued under the management of his brother, William. Subsequent issues of these jetons would feature Gustav Adolph and his wife, Maria Eleonora, the sovereigns of England, 'classical portraits' of historical and biblical figures, 'street cries,' and the commonwealth.
Of even greater interest and debate among numismatists over the past century has been the method of manufacture of these jetons. Their appearance at first glance would lead one to believe that they have been individually engraved owing to their incuse design. It is thought that, in fact, these ornate counters were skillfully cast and polished in order to generate this 'faux-engraved' effect.
This piece is from the 'classical portraits' series, drawing upon historical and biblical figures. In this case, Henri I, Capetan king of the Franks from 1031–1060, and Publius Vergilius Maro, more commonly known as Virgil, one of ancient Rome's most famous poets, who lived in the first century BC. The portraits in this series are based upon those engraved by Guillaume Rouillé in his Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum, an iconographic book published in 1553 with medal-like engravings and biographies of historical individuals.
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