French Arras Tokens

In the book "A Short History of Marriage" by Ethel L. Urlin (1969) on page 50-51, it says:

The French form in some respects was the same, and part of it derived from the Salic law of per solidum et denarium; it still survives in the picturesque form of pretty little pieces of money specially made, which, when the bridegroom says, "De mon bein je vous doue," he delicately places in the little purse of the bride. These specially coined deniers are known as deniers pour Úpouser.

I found a drawing of one of these tokens:

I recently acquired the following token on eBay.


These tokens are covered in the book "L'Amour et Le Mariage Dans La Numismatique" by Jules Florange (1936)

I posted a note in the rec.collecting.coins newsgroup, and got these responses:

According to that old wedding custom, the groom paid 13 deniers: twelve for the bride's parents, one for the priest. If the groom did not have those "deniers pour Úpouser", regular deniers tournois could be used as well -- but they had to be gold or silver plated.

It looks like the original concept of the `trezain de mariage' somewhere down the line became subsumed into a representational "mariage medal", the tradition of which carried on at least until the start of the first world war (possibly later).

The "marriage medal" seems to have been a standard design with a space on the back that could be engraved. These are reasonably common both blank and engraved. A blank one is shown below. Engraving is usually done on the reverse, but sometimes the edge is also engraved. Some just have the initials of the couple, but some have full names and the date of the wedding. These seem to have been most used from about 1880-1910, but are know as early as ~1800 and some are still in use today. This type of medal is still sold by the French Mint, Monnaie de Paris.

Marriage medals show up occaisionally on eBay, and there are nearly always some listed on eBay France and Aucland auction sites. (Note: listings are mostly in French, and sellers may not sell to USA) Treizain are much harder to find, I see about one a year on eBay, eBay France, or in an auction.

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