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Jetton.  A small medal, always round or octagonal, used as a gift item or card. The term is rare in America, but popular in France, where it is spelled jeton. Before it evolved into an artistic gratuity, it originally was a game counter or member's ticket or pass. First struck in the early reign of Louis XIII (1610-43) jettons were limited to silver pieces from 25 to 35mm diameter. Because of this size, like a large coin or small medal, they are thusly similar to the German gedenkthaler or the American so-called dollar. They are almost always struck on coining presses at both national – the Paris Mint is a major source of these – and private mints.

Unlike larger medals with a large design area, jettons are limited to a single device and theme with no subsidiary designs or ornamentation and are designed by the same artists who create coin and medal designs. Early jettons were always dated, modern ones are less like so. Their topics are as widespread as larger medallic art and a recent catalog of several thousand jettons listed these in 103 topics.

Among collectors of decorations the term is applied to miniatures of a Czarist Russian medal that was also made as a lapel pin or watchfob.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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