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Library Happenings – Internet offers answers to playground discovery

By Angie Georgeff

I love the Internet! I recently was asked to bring “something old” to a DAR meeting. I could have just taken myself, or my great-great-grandfather’s Bible, but I had something I was pretty sure was older.

Many years ago when I lived in Germany, my then six-year-old son found a coin buried in the dirt on a playground and brought it home.  It was about the size of a quarter, very thin and broken in two. It appeared to be made of copper or an alloy. The coin had darkened with age and it had a couple of verdigris spots.  It obviously was old, but had no date or inscription that I could read.

I knew that Andrew, if left to his own devices, would soon damage the coin or lose it, so I offered to buy it. I asked my son to name his price. He wanted $5.00, which I paid him. I put it safely away with some other small curiosities and very seldom thought of it. I did not, however, forget it. When asked to produce something old, I took it out and looked at it.  I hadn’t seen it in years.

The impressions were more distinct than I remembered. What I took to be the obverse of the disc featured a heraldic shield with three fleurs-de-lis, so I presumed that it was French.  The reverse showed a Greek cross set within a quatrefoil.  This side, too, was decorated with tiny lilies of France. I had enough clues to try my luck and search the Internet. Within fifteen minutes I discovered that my “coin” was not a coin at all. I have a French jeton dating to the 14th century.

During the Middle Ages, a jeton was used as a token to calculate sums on a counting board similar to an abacus. Now I can visualize some medieval merchant or accountant sliding that little disc around on a counting board to keep track of profit earned, rents collected or taxes owed. I would hardly have been more pleased if it had turned out to be a valuable antique coin.

Now you know why I’m so enamored of the Internet. You pose a question to a search engine and get an answer within minutes–or often just seconds. There still will be things you can wonder about, but if you want to know why the sky is blue, that answer is at your fingertips. To learn how to search the Internet, come to the library at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, for our Introduction to Computers. Please call the library at 743-6533, for information and reservations.

Summer Closings

The library will be closed on Monday, May 30, in observance of Memorial Day. Because supplies for our Summer Reading Programs are currently being stored in the basement, our used book sale will be closed until programs conclude. We are sorry for any inconvenience.