Brass reckoning counter, or jetton
Nuremberg, Germany, 16th century
Jettons were used in the manner of an abacus to aid calculation in arithmetic at a time when Roman numerals were still in regular use - imagine having to add XVIII to CCV! The counters were laid out in rows on a checker-board, cloth or table on which lines or boxes could be drawn. At first actual coins seem to have been used until the idea occurred of producing cheaper counters in base metal. In the late Middle Ages some cities came to specialise in jetton production. In the 16th century and later, Nuremberg was responsible for producing vast quantities of such counters, which are today found in large numbers. Hans Krauwinckel was a prominent Nuremberg producer. This example has the winged lion of St Mark of Venice on the obverse with the Reichsapfel, or orb, on the reverse.