This publication is a contribution to the study of pseudomoney, described for the first time in a scientific way by Eckel1 in his masterpiece of eight volumes “Doctrina Nummorum Veterum”, published at the end of the 1700. In the first four volumes he describes Greek and Roman provincial coinage, according to Strabone’s geographical order, while in the last four he illustrates Roman coinage, also in the eighth volume he dedicates 46 pages to the pseudomoney,  detailing mostly the edged coins in the first section, and mentioning in the seven pages of the second leaded and coppered tesserae. Abbot Eckel was the first numismatic teacher  in the world, thanks to the appointment obtained at the University of Vienna in 1774; in 1775 he published  the catalogue of the imperial collection of medals that he had been curator of.

It is clear that the classical coinage roused and rouses  great historical and artistical interest; nevertheless, taking into  consideration the conventional value of coins, sustained by the prestige of the issuing  authority, with the consequenting imitations, counterfeits and falsifications, we can understand the importance of the pseudomoney, which is characterised and  different from the other types of coinage also from an artistical profile. 

We can say  that it was born with the coin and that it has always influenced the micro-economy of  states and that it has always been connected with the different kinds of issuing authorities.  In some cases, the pesudomoney  expresses the State, in other cases it is a  supporter of the State, and in other circumstances it is more or less tollerated by the opponents of  legal power. These issues are very numerous, there are many  different kinds but hardly anything can be found about them in documents which rule the official issues. That is why a research for news about classical sources is unuseful ineffective; by the way, the “sources”, in the medical field, immediately brings to mind a  diuretic image, and the advice of a famous Italian numismatic teacher, who advises his student not to fill their  pages with urine, which seems to be very appropriate in the case of the use of tokens in a classical methodology of scientific research.

The tesserae or the tokens have always been the expression of a benefit, either aristocratic or popular, valid in limited geographical areas, and as for all the benefits the pro tempore power has never recognized them in an official way, ignoring or using them.  Through  the centuries, there have not been many  changes in the employment of pseudomoney, and if they have to be classified, dividing them into pro bono principis  and pro bono comunitatis categories, distinguishing therefore the tokens payed for in advance by the users, from those which gave the right to a service offered by the distributor. This division only takes  care of the economical aspect, and does not take into consideration the indirect return in publicity from free distributions, present also in olden times as well.

The illustrated tokens are not catalogued homogenously, so on the same page you may find very detailed or less detailed descriptions of tokens in different languages. This derives from the will not to assume an official language, and partly from the wish to underline the possibility, with some examples, to extend the incomplete parts on request. In foreign countries, the collectors of tokens and the pubblications connected with them are numerous, while in Italy, both are quite few.

In order to introduce  gradually  the reader to this subject, I would prefer to divide my work into three sections, explaning  the modern tokens  first, because they are known to everyone and are easily  understood, then the medieval and the Renaissance tokens, and lastly  the ancient ones, ponting out the similarities with modern ones.

The obverse (O) and the reverse (R) sides of each token have been reproduced in full-scale for  diametres equal or inferior to 4.5 cm; also the type, the metal used, the weight (W), the diameter (D), the thickness (T), the coins orientation  (H), the edge (E) and an indicative price in USA dollars,uncirculated ($) are  noted. Moreover, the reader will find a description of the figures founds on the two sides of the coins,  some of the more important bibliographical references and  an illustration of the different examples of each token; in some cases, the analisys of the metal content using an electronic microscope is also given.

The page layout is that of like groups, that is why the number  order is rarely that of the of inventory.

I would now like to list the most important publications concerning this subject and also to mention the various dealers who have contributed more than any thing through sales catalogues to develope specialised knowledge on this subject. The bibliographic material is described starting with the publications  that deal with modern tokens, then  the Medieval or Renaissance tokens and lastly the ancient tokens. It should be remembered that, at different times or in different places, the token changes completely its conventional value, that is why we have to take into consideration  these differences before making any comparison.

[1] J.Eckhel, Doctrina nummorum veterum, P.II vol. VIII, p. 275 - 320, sumptibus Iosephi Comesina et soc., Vindobonae, 1798.