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Numbered religious medal

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2012-09-25_opt.jpgThis medal contains its own little puzzle. On the obverse at about seven o/clock can be seen J72 or probably 172, stamped into the medal.





Google only throws up two hits for this piece, and both belong to the British Museum. Leaving aside the fact that they can't decide if it's Jesus or John the Baptist, it is significant that both medals appear to bear a similar number, unfortunately only one has been photographed.






I will be very surprised if anyone knows about the medal, but what about the numbers. Do they suggest anything to you? Are they some form of ticket?

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"1" was often engraved using a "J" so I think you are okay with 172 & the picture museum one has 292, so individually 18th century numbered pass, méreau or communion token perhaps.



Note the J in J773


Great find, suprising given the assumed number made, up to at least 292, or 1777? on the unpictured one(that might be a mistake & be 177) that so little info is to be found.


Huguenots in France used méreaux http://www.hugenoot.org.za/mer-e.htm they were used for identification & for the allocation of relief, bread, soup or a meal etc.


I would go with Christ, not John.

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Thank you Pat. In the space of a day a lot has been discovered for which I must thank friends on another forum.


Firstly that you are correct with regard to John the Baptist. Parate via Domini, prepare ye the way of the Lord, Isiah's prophecy about the coming of Jesus, whose way is prepared by John.


The next discovery shows just how wide ranging our community is. A very erudite friend in Australia spotted that:


The second reference shows the piece stamped 292 in the Montague Guest collection, checking this # 1538 in his catalogue *there is no further information except # 1537 is the same but stamped 188.

A search for MG 1537 brought up the other image of # 188 in the BM.




This image shows the same use of J for 1 as my example, and that the BM has more than two examples.


This is getting very interesting.


* Which only goes to prove that there will always be another collector somewhere out there who has a copy of the book or catalogue you need.

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Looking at the examples(I checked the other forum) they are all fairly worn which suggests either they were circulated as coins after their original purpose was fufilled but I think more likely they were used repeatedly as identification. In a large church with many communion tables the faithful would be directed to the appropriate table by their number so as to divide the congregation into equal numbers for each table.

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A compelling and well reasoned argument. In fact that degree of wear must indicate constant use over a long period.

It's difficult to tell, but my example seems to be copper and I'm judging it by the J/1 usage to be late C18th . I have other religious pieces from this period which formed part of a collection made in the 1900s and from these it's possible to guess what 100 odd years of veneration can do to soft metal. I like your idea more and more.

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Pat, all day I've been desperate to get home as I couldn't read this on my phone. All I can say is Wow, just Wow!


This is a phenomenal piece of work, all the more so since you seem to have used pretty much the same search words as I but with a far more positive result.

Thank you Sir.



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