The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 16, Number 36, September 1, 2013, Article 13


William Houston submitted this information about a book (in German) containing a good deal of information on communion tokens. Thanks! -Editor

Recently, in the 14 July 2013 issue of this journal, Michael S. Shutty Jr. announced the publication of his numismatic work, "Communion Tokens: A Guide to Collecting Scottish, Canadian and United States Tokens." He noted the book is a "Trade Paperback," has 137 pages and has a list price of US$ 14.95. He also included information about the history and use of such tokens.

I recently purchased a different book / pamphlet for a much more restricted field of use for communion tokens, also published this year.

Zugang Zum Abendmahl TITLE: "Zugang zum Abendmahl. Méreaux im deutschen Refuge und in anderen deutschsprachigen Gemeinden." Being very free with a translation and trying to define the scope of the work, I would say: "Admittance to Communion. (Communion) Tokens in the German-Speaking Diaspora."
AUTHOR: Desel, Jochen.
ISBN: 978-3-930481-36-1.
PUBLISHED AND COPYRIGHTED BY: Verlag der Deutschen Hugenotten-Gesellschaft e. V. That is to say: Printing House or Division of the German Hugenotten Association (registered Association).
FORMAT: 17 X 24 CM. Card covers.
PAGES: 110
LIST PRICE: Euros 14.80 plus postage.

The work is Volume Number 49 in the series of publications issued by the German Hugenotten Assn., mostly devoted to the history of the Protestant French Reformed Church and kindred religious groups in Germany over the past several centuries.

Jochen Desel is a Deacon Emeritus of the Church, former president of the German Hugenotten Assn. and active with the Hugenotten Museum in Bad Karlshafen in Hessen, with a special interest in numismatics pertaining to the Hugenotten.

The catalog starts out with around 50 pages of historical information about the Church and its use of tokens. The very first paragraph takes up the word Méreau: "Méreau (Plural méraux, mérraux), marreau (Plural marreaux, marraux), maros / marots (Plural), marque; english: communion token; niederländisch: avondmaalsloodje ..." I continue: were the names used for round or sometimes four sided tokens (Jetons) of lead or some other base metal which had already been in use since the middle ages. The word probably comes from the Latin verb mereri (worthy, earned).

Following topics discuss Johannes Calvin's theology and his support of token use; the use of Méreau in world-wide Reformed Churches (see also the United States commemorative half dollar of 1924 for the Huguenot - Walloon tercentenary); problems which sometimes developed in requiring tokens to receive communion, and continues on to the retirement of the tokens in most all Reformed Churches in Germany by around 1890. This part of the catalog contains some illustrations (all pictures in the catalog are in black and white), a few documents and a couple charts.

The catalog part of the book starts on page 59 with token Nr.1 from Aachen, a German Reformed congregation, and ends on page 97 with token Nr. 53 from Wilhelmsdorf in Frankonia, a French Reformed congregation. A few of the tokens do have A - B - C etc. for varieties. It is not certain that all listed churches actually issued Méreau. Old church records have been searched and indexed for various subjects and where an entry such as "we are running out of tokens for communion," or "it was moved that Elder XYZ secure new tokens," occurs, this suffices for a listing in the catalog without knowing if any tokens were actually produced.

It seems that almost all issued tokens are at least quite scarce. Some tokens are pictured but quite a few of the issues which are known to have been issued are not pictured here. Where information is available, cross references are given, including auction offerings (but not with prices). The tokens, often uniface, sometimes have no date or inscription -- only a picture, a lamb or chalice or candle. Inscriptions can be in French, German or Latin. Some pieces list only a church, SANCTE BARTOLOMVS (in Danzig). They are hard to attribute! This catalog will be a big help.

And at the back of the book is a 10 page bibliography of religious, historical and a few numismatic works -- including the 1999 catalog of Lester Burzinski. On page 14, footnote 20, Mr. Desel first mentions the work with the statement ..."no copy can be found in the German libraries ..."

For anyone who might be interested, the German Hugenotten Association is online: Click on Webshop and then on Bücher. The list of available publications is alphabetical by author. Scroll down to Desel and you'll see the new work. Go down a little farther and you'll find another helpful addition for your numismatic library by Prof. Dr. Barbara Dölemeyer and Desel, "Deutsche Hugenotten- und Waldenser- Medaillen." 1998. 180 pages. Many black and white illustrations. CHEAP closeout price Euros 6.00 plus postage.

For more information, or to order, see: Desel, Jochen: Zugang zum Abendmahl (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: NEW BOOK: COMMUNION TOKENS (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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