100942 | GERMANY. Nürnberg. Copper Jeton or Rechenpfennig.
100942 | GERMANY. Nürnberg. Copper Jeton or Rechenpfennig. Issued circa 1600-1625. Mythology series: Mars and Venus/Pygmalion (28mm, 5.36 g, 12h). By H. Krauwinkel II.
MARTIVS ET VENVS, Mars and Venus standing facing, embracing one another; sword and cuirass to left, Cupid, bow, and quiver to right / PYGMALION, Pygmalion seated left on basis, hammering and chiseling a sculpture to left. Neumann 32273; Mitchener 1624-5.
Choice About Uncirculated. Pleasing brown surfaces; some minor striking weakness. Exceptional quality for the type.
Rechenpfennigen, German for "accounting pennies," are similar to other tokens or jetons that could serve reckoning, gaming, or even semi-numismatic functions. In particular, the rechenpfennigen were made famous by their various manufacturers in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) from the mid-late 16th century to the early 18th century, with a host of themes used as subject matter. These topics included history, mythology, contemporary political affairs, and even satire. Though many were intended as aids in accounting and bookkeeping (with an accounting board and these tokens taking the place of an abacus or sliderule), they were also useful in other functions, such as in the world of gaming—as poker chips—or in commerce and monetary transactions—as a substitute for harder currency.
A mythological type, this piece not only features Mars and Venus on the obverse, but also touches upon the story of Pygmalion, a sculptor famous in legend for falling in love with a sculpture produced by his own hand, it being so beautiful and realistic. In a modern reprisal, George Bernard Shaw's play of the same name sees phonetics professor Henry Higgins "sculpt" the diction of his student, Eliza Doolittle, thus "giving her life," in an upper class, social sense of early 20th century England. The musical and movie My Fair Lady remade Shaw's story, all pointing back to this original legend.