1450s, Royal France. Silver Financial Calculation "IHS" Token / Jetton. Scarce!
Mint Period: ca. 1450 Mint Place: Nurnberg? Denomination: Jetton / Financial Calculation Token Condition: Moderate corrosion, otherwise F-aVF! Diameter: 25mm Weight: 2.39gm Material: Silver
Obverse: Large Christogramm ("IHS") with within inner circle. Annullet (o) above, three dots (.:) below. Random inscription around. Legend: NSNA....
Reverse: Nimbate saint or Archbishop, holding crozier and sword. Stars at sides. Random inscription around. Legend: .: SANMPRNPSRPNMSR :.
Jetons were widely used by government institutions such as state treasuries, revenue services and the bureos, stewardship courts or councils that supervised the royal family´s finances and internal affairs. The German city of Nuremberg was one of the leading jeton production centres. There were many imitations of monetary designs which led some jetons to be mistaken for actual coins. Nuremberg jetons were manufactured by private firms, most of which were family businesses like that of Hans Schultes (1553-1584).
In the Latin-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe (and so among Catholics and many Protestants today), the most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ.
The Greek letter iota is represented by I, and the eta by H, while the Greek letter sigma is either in its lunate form, represented by C, or its final form, represented by S. Because the Latin-alphabet letters I and J were not systematically distinguished until the 17th century, "JHS" and "JHC" are equivalent to "IHS" and "IHC".
"IHS" is sometimes interpreted as meaning "ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΗΜΕΤΕΡΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ" (Iēsous Hēmeteros Sōtēr, "Jesus our Saviour") or in Latin "Jesus Hominum (or Hierosolymae) Salvator", ("Jesus, Saviour of men [or: of Jerusalem]" in Latin) or connected with In Hoc Signo. English-language interpretations of "IHS" have included "In His Service". Such interpretations are known as backformed acronyms.
Used in Latin since the seventh century, the first use of IHS in an English document dates from the fourteenth century, in the vision of William concerning Piers Plowman. In the 15th century, Saint Bernardino of Siena popularized the use of the three letters on the background of a blazing sun to displace both popular pagan symbols and seals of political factions like the Guelphs and Ghibellines in public spaces (see Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus).
The IHS monogram with the H surmounted by a cross above three nails and surrounded by a Sun is the emblem of the Jesuits, according to tradition introduced by Ignatius of Loyola in 1541.