Society for Creative Anachronism ARCHIVE
The "Fleur D'Argent"
 
 
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Fleur "D'Argent"
Society for Creative Anachronism $8 (Two Penny) Trade Token
25.2mm .999 Silver

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   The design on one side of this coin is a "castellum devastata" (i.e. "devastated castle") with one of its towers in flames, another tower struck by lightening, and a ragged flag falling from the flagstaff on the main tower. This symbolizes the destruction of the world in general - and the works of man in particular - in the Apocalypse prophesied in the Book of Revelations. The Latin inscription "SENESCIT MUNDUS" signifies "the World grows old" - i. e. in preparation for the Apocalypse.

   The specific image of the castle's structure is modelled on that on a silver grosso of the Greek Island of Chios, attributed to the late fifteenth century. However, the flames, smoke, clouds, and lightening, &c. are not characteristic of medieval or Renaissance coin design; such "narrative" images were never commonly used on national coinages, but they are often seen on "jetons" (i.e. "counters" or merchants' accounting tokens) of the sixteenth and later centuries. (The inspiration for the image of a building being destroyed, as well as the phrase "senescit mundus", is found in the novel The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.)

   The Latin inscription in the outer band of lettering on the other side of the coin is "REJUVENESCIT MUNDUS", meaning "the World is rejuvenated". (The I-C monogram is the "privy mark" of Ian Cnulle, who made the dies used to strike this coin.) Rejuvenation is also the meaning intended for the fleur de lis itself. This fleur design is modeled on that of the "moneta argens" (i.e. "silver coin") of Strassbourg struck around the year 1500, although it was used on the coins of that city for centuries before and after that.

   (A note on spelling and pronunciation: "rejuvenescit" was originally pronounced "ray-you-wen-es-kit" [as opposed to the standard American English "ree-jew-ven-es-sit"]. The Latin "J" was actually a long "I" - pronounced "ee", and usually written with the same letter as short "i"; when followed by another vowel, it played the phonetic role that modern English uses "Y" for. The "V" letter was the original Latin "U"; when followed by another vowel, it played the phonetic role modern English uses "W" for. The Latin "C" was always pronounced as a "K".)

   The inscription of the inner circle of lettering is "SECULA MEDI(a) PRESENS", meaning "Current Middle Ages". "Current Middle Ages" has also been translated as "secula media currens", since "currens" is the Latin root of the modern word "current"; however, "presens" (originally "pr憇ens") is probably closer to our intended meaning than the original sense of "currens". There are no inscription stop marks (i.e. the "colon" of raindrops) between "presens" and "secula", because the same letter does service as the first letter of secula and the last letter of presens - a space saving device occasionally employed by medieval die cutters.

   Throughout the original middle ages the mind of man was repeatedly oppressed by the expectation of the immanent end of the World. The endless possession of the Holy Land by infidels, the Viking raids of the ninth to the eleventh centuries, the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century, the Black Plague of the fourteenth century, and the "mini ice age" of the fifteenth century all seemed to herald the Apocalypse. Living amid the vast and ancient ruins of the Roman Empire, literate people looked upon these signs of destruction and said "senescit mundus".

   While people attached their hopes to their expectations of the afterlife, each crisis brought fertilizing change, and each passing calamity was followed by a new flowering of population growth, commerce, and learning in letters, arts and sciences. By the end of the medieval period, the accumulation of change was counted the rebirth of civilization. The modern world, with its empires greater far than that of the Romans, is the fruit of that flowering.

   Yet the modern world in like manner is threatened with conclusive destruction by weapons of god-like power, by the sickening and withering of Nature by the success of mankind, and by ideologies of Apocalyptic fury. In this way, the middle ages mirror the modern age, and in like fashion, the fleur d'argent mirrors the fears - and the hopes - of both ages. Age and youth, destruction and renewal, death and rebirth, all are each but two sides of the same coin.

   The fleur d'argent is struck in fine silver only, and it contains approximately one tenth of a troy ounce of silver. Styled a "demi-gros", a "half-groat" or "tuppence", it trades at a value twice that of Ian Cnulle's silver thirteenth century English style "trade penny" at those SCA events where Ian Cnulle provides service as a money-changer.

   The die used for the fleur de lis side of the coin has been used to produce other coins that have no monetary exchange function; the die used for the "castellum devastata" side of the coin is unique to the trade coin.

The Moneyer of Silberbyrg ... EMail:Ian Cnulle (Greg Franck-Weiby)