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French medallion for Whist scoring

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I bought this a while ago and for the longest time just couldn't figure out what it was. "Car tel est notre plaisir" is what a French king says as a fatuous justification of getting what he wants just because he wants it, and for a while I thought it was somehow related to government. The figure of Fortuna on the obverse, with her wheel and her rudder, is pretty conventional. Eventually of course I looked more closely and saw the Spades and Clubs symbols at the tops of columns on the reverse... [the piece is copper, 37 mm diameter]





Although the scoring isn't exactly that of modern European whist (as played, for example, in Belgium: see this link) the types of contracts are similar.


The coin is pretty beat up, but you can see that each line of numbers starts with a higher number, from 5 to 13.

The number of tricks taken are listed starting on the left (5 thru 13), with scores including doubling and tripling.

PET.MIS = Petite Misere = you must lose 12 tricks, using no trumps

GR.MISER = Grande Misere = you must lose 13 tricks, using no trumps

PET.M.OUV or GR.M.OU = Petite or Grande Misere Ouverte = same as Petite or Grande Misere, except that you must lay your cards openly on the table after the first trick

Schlemm = Slam (you must take all tricks, using trumps or not)


I don't know what MIS GEN means. GR. FORC may refer to a situation when, if you hold 3 aces, you are forced to let the other players know and you must play to a certain contract.


Whist was a common game in 18th- and 19th-century France, especially among wealthy gamblers.

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