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The poor and needy


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I've had some difficulty and fascination in my initial research of this piece. It is not catalogued in either Feuardent or Mitchiner, and does not appear in any of the auction catalogues I have come across to date.

 

The obverse (St Germain and a.n. other saint) appears on jetons issued for the `Commisaires des Pauvres' in 1683 and also later on jetons issued for the Paris `Eglise Saint-Germain L'Auxerrois'. However, the reverse is the intriguing aspect. The legend `sic nos non nobis'(a quote from Virgil's Aenid) literally translated means `thus do we, but not for ourselves'. That is to say `for the good of others'. The imagery of the bees and beehive re-inforces he message. In the exergue is the latin inscription `super egenum et pauperem intelligetir' which (roughly translated) means `to provide succour to the needy and poor', which in turn is a play on the first verse of Psalm 40 all of which leads me to believe that this particular jeton (dated 1685) was indeed issued for the `Commissaire des Pauvres' for St Germain L'Auxerois. The Commissaire in 1683 was Nicolas Laleu, and in 1685 it was M'sieu Saillot. Jetons are catalogued for both.....but not this one. Possibly it was a short issue for Laleu in 1685 and before Saillot took over the role. I can only surmise on that score, but for me it is a fascinating piece.

 

One of the items I came across on my research trail was a webpage for the Massachusets Historical Society whose seal shares a similar motto and design to the reverse legend of this jeton. other than sheer co-incidence, i'm left pondering if their seal was inspired by this particular jeton design. Maybe this jeton should be brought to their attention. Then again maybe not. They might have difficulty with the `french connection'. :)

 

http://www.masshist.org/blog/16

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Wow Ian -- you couldn't find this jeton in any catalogue? --and I'm sure you have them all (or access to them). What fun you must be having searching. Fascinating piece. And of course in 1834 the designer of the Mass emblem had access to plenty of material from early modern English sources--surely influenced by Continental sources-- to draw on for inspiration.

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