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Tete Chinonaise Deniers and Obols of Chartres


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Edits 8/21/2006 to bring this thread into align with my thread about Blois.






Original post follows:


Ian has posted a number of French jetons from his magnificent collection and inspired me to take a look at the range of pieces available. To my pleasant surprise, I found a jeton that tied to my interests in the tete chinonaise series of medieval France. First, four deniers in the Chartrain style (contrast the style with that of Blois shown in an earlier post) all from Chartres, then the jeton.


The first is an early denier of Thibaut the Trickster dating to the period between 957 and 978. The coin has been trimmed as were 30 of 35 such coins found in the Treasure of Fecamp. This coin might be one of the 30, but I do not know its actual history. The obverse is a stylized crowned bust.




The second is attributed to Eudes I or Theobald II or the period from 975 to 1004. The basic design remains the same, although it is bolder and somewhat more refined and abstracted.




A denier of Eudes II (1004 to 1037) follows. Faint dots on either side of the crown distinguish the piece from the previous coin. The spelling of civitas on the reverse as civitis is an uncataloged variety. Dies were cut by hand and variations in the lettering are common.




The fourth denier fast forwards 260 years to Charles de Valois (1293-1325). The lily replaces the bars forming the chin as in the previous deniers and a rosette forms the eye. The lily appears first on the coins of Jean and Jeanne de Chatillon (1256 to 1286).




The images become so abstract as variations creep in over time that at least one of you has wondered how the people of the time might have viewed the designs. An early study of the type pictures the coins with the busts rotated so the bridge of the nose points up or down. One might expect someone to view the image in this way if they compare it to the chatel design that follows. The coat of arms of Chartres provides another hint at how the people of the time viewed the design. The coat of arms (see the jetton below) features three deniers in its primary field. The design is that of the Jean de Chatillon denier with the lily. One can understand rotating the design so the lily is upright. One can only wonder if they recognized the abstract head after 300 years of progressive abstraction.




The bronze jeton has been cleaned and polished. With luck it will retone nicely with time. The jetton was struck in silver as well. The jeton is significant to me only in part because of the images of the deniers. I visited Chartres with my wife in 1997. Although I have travelled frequently, she had never travelled outside the U.S. We went to France to visit the Palaeolithic caves and spent a long first day in Paris, hurried visit to the Louvre, Arch of Triumph, long walk, long day, harrowing cab ride, etc. Everything was happening so fast with no time to settle into a normal pace. The next morning we were in the car, trying to wind our way out of the city. Before long, the cathedral of Chartres appeared on the horizon, much as it must have appeared in 1689, the date of the jetton. We arrived at the cathedral while mass was being held. For my wife, who is Catholic, the experience was inspiring. When she learned her father had sent a picture of himself to her mother, taken in front of the same cathedral, during World War II, it made the visit even more special. Her father passed away a few years earlier and had never talked much about the war. To have shared an experience with him, even belatedly, was special. I have fond memories of that day.


So, Ian inspired me to take a closer look at French jetons and I am hooked. The first is special, but I am attracted to the city views. I'm certain this will be the first of what will become a new collecting interest.

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A real neat collection you have there Bill. :ninja:


I've been on the look out for a decent denier of Eudes for some time now, but the right one has failed to present so far (that is my way of saying that they've all been over my budget). :lol:


Fascinating how Chartres' Coat of Arms has the busts facing upwards. A story in itself.



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  • 1 month later...

The first entry in this thread featured deniers. Although Blois-Chartres-Châteaudun were unified politically under the Count of Blois, Thibault the Trickster, the Chinonaise style of Chartres and Châteaudun differed from that of Bois. Legros's analysis of hoards suggests that no coins were struck in Chartres from 1150 to 1220, none in Châteaudun from 1040 to 1100, and none in Blois from 1100 to 1220. From 1040 to 1150, Chartres produced obols almost exclusively. Why has not been explained. (An obol is one half a denier, a very small silver coin, useful for change but more difficult to handle when used for large sums of payment.)


An obol of Eudes II:




Roberts 5071s

Legros 889

Duplessy 433


Obverse: Crowned bust facing right with pellets on either side. A pellet forms the eye and three triangles the chin.

Reverse: Cross. + CARTIS CIVITAS


Obols such as this are common in relation to many of the other coins covered in the Tete Chinonaise threads.

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The denier of Charles de Valois pictured earlier reflects the changes brought on by the changing political fortunes of the House of Blois and the rise of the Capetian kings. These stylistic changes were not reflected in the first coins struck following the 70 year hiatus from 1150 to 1220. When coinage began again under Isabelle (1218-1249), the design was little changed. Besants, dots, on either side of the bars that make up the chin distinguish the new design. The ratio of deniers to obols likely returns to what one would expect in a normal economy.


Isabelle's coins are thought to be represented by normal As n the legend, CARTIS CIVITAS. Variants with inverted Ts and M sin place of the As are thought to be attributed to Mahaut (1249-1256). The deniers of Mahaut are rare, but my example is an unlisted obol.




Roberts 5072s variety

Legros 906v, extremely rare. (The description of the denier 904 matches the obol, but the one obol documented has inverted Ts instead of Ms.)

Duplessy 435v


Obverse: Crowned bust facing right with pellets on either side. A pellet forms the eye and three triangles the chin. A pellet appears on either side of the chin device.

Reverse: Cross with a pellet in the 3rd quadrant. + CMRTIS CIVITMS


I've noted one other example of this obol in a French dealer's catalog attributed as the more common Legros 889 as pictured in the previous post. This series is so complex and the coins relatively rare that I suspect such errors are often made without careful study. I know I've spent hours checking and rechecking my attributions and I still make simple mistakes from time-to-time.

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