Reckoning the Revolt on Rekenpenningen

Old Testament Jetons of the Eighty Years' War


  • Rachel Wise



This article examines the Rijksmuseum’s collection of rekenpenningen (jetons or casting counters) from the Eighty Years’ War that were struck with Old Testament imagery. Practical in function, jetons were used by government officials to aid in
counting, such as with the computation of taxes. They also served as an effective propaganda medium, as they regularly depicted and allegorized events of the first half of the Revolt (c. 1570-1609). On jetons the marriage of contemporary war and biblical episodes was transformed into erudite, visual-textual idioms: a struck image on the obverse interrelated to one on the reverse, crystalized by circumscribing Latin legends. With three case studies, this article examines the visual
sources that inspired the counters and explains the surprisingly learned commentary that arises from the biblical analogies and text. The function of counting accentuates the persuasive effect of the counters: numerically and metaphorically accumulating support for the war. The Rijksmuseum’s collection of jetons is one of the most notable in the Netherlands and has not been studied from an art historical perspective before.


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Author Biography

  • Rachel Wise

    Rachel Wise was the Rijksmuseum Dr Anton C.R. Dreesmann Fellow (September 2016- September 2017), during which time she conducted the research for this article. She is a History of Art Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, writing a dissertation on the multimedia response to the Eighty Years’ War.







How to Cite

“Reckoning the Revolt on Rekenpenningen: Old Testament Jetons of the Eighty Years’ War”. 2019. The Rijksmuseum Bulletin 67 (2): 122-41.