Sylvia T. writes: I have a Krauwinckel, a personal jeton of Hans Krauwinckel. It was made between 1580-1620. I was wondering if you might know it’s value.
Few people today realize that up to as late as the 19th century, many Europeans were trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to do math with Roman numerals. This is a daunting task even for simple arithmetic problems. One counting aid was the abacus, essentially a frame with rows of beads on wires. Each row representing a decimal place. Another solution was to use reckoning counters , also known as jetons, on a counting board, similar to the arrangement of an abacus, but with squares in which the metal counters were placed. Jetons were an important part of government and commercial life and it is easy to imagine that jetons were very much in demand.
By the late middle ages, jetons began to borrow the appearance of local coinage, but without official legends For example the phrase Ave Maria Gracia Plena often appears on early counters Sometimes the legends were gibberish and later the legends often reflected political messages.
Though the concept of the reckoning counter is thought to have originated in France in the 13th century, Nuremberg, Germany became a major supplier by the end of the 14th century. The Germans called them rechenpfennige and by the 16th century the jeton trade was mostly in the hands of a few families such as Laufer, Schultes and Krauwinckel. Their names appear on one side of the jeton.
The most common of the renaissance era manufacturers were the jetons of Hans Krauwinckel (1586 – 1635). The most common design of the Krauwinckel jetons is a design of crowns and fleur-de-lis on the obverse with the inscription HANS KRAUWINCKEL IN NUR (Hans Krauwinckel in Nuremberg). The reverse shows a Reichsapfel, a cross on globe in a triglobe, with the legend GOTT ALLEIN DIE EERE SEI, (roughly: G-d’s watching), a warning about honest counting.
Values depend on grade (condition): Estimate: $15-$50.