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Pox Americana or flu - 1775


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An octagonal silver jeton i've just purchased. Didn't know it even existed before i saw this example last week. There is a similar item on the website of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, but their example has a different bust of Louis XVI with a slightly different obverse legend (Christianissimus' as opposed to the abbreviated 'Christianiss' on my example).

 

The jeton is rather topical in that it was struck to commemorate the establishment of a quarantine station for sailors (aka a lazaretto) at Marseille to help deal with containment of infectious disease such as the influenza virus that had a devastating effect in 1775 and to protect against the great smallpox epidemic of 1775 -82 (aka `Pox Americana') that blighted North America. The term quarantine is derived from `quarantina' which was the name given to the period of detention of 40 days first instigated at Marseille in 1383. This became the standard period for detaining people suspected of having a contagious disease.

 

Obverse: Youthful bust of Louis XVI, reverse: maritime scene loading supplies / medicines into a keep. Not sure if this is the fortress at Marseille harbour or the small island castle of Chateau D'If....or somewhere else entirely :ninja:

 

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Nice one Ian.

 

Marseille being the major french port has always been a pathway for plagues. I watched a very interesting TV program on the Great Plague of Marseille of 1720-1722, that time it was the bubonic plague. More than half of the estimated population of 90,000 died.

 

Now the jet has superseded the ship as the carrier of preference for such things.

 

Back to the jeton, it is almost like a painting being so natural & realistic.

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  • 5 years later...

Just acquired my second example of this jeton, Unfortunately, it is not an example of the one with the obverse legend variation but the obverse on this seems to have been struck using a different die from the first example

 

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  • 1 month later...

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