Friday, August 7, 2015

Coin Lore

We all remember "Feed the Birds" in Mary Poppins for Tuppence a bag, and all the rest of the Tuppence mentions in that movie.

There is: Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.

Why did they give sixpence as a wedding gift to brides.? see below.

You have to be careful to avoid cracking a tooth on a sixpence in your Christmas Plum Pudding.

Then there is a character in Agatha Christie named Tuppence.

And who can deny the interest in a coin called Thruppence, a Florin, a Bob or ha'pence or hay-p'ny, and pennies half the size of coasters...and what the hell is a farthing?.

English tradition says that a bride will have good luck  if she has the following during her marriage:

Something old,
Something new,
Something borrowed
And something blue
And wear a sixpence in her shoe.
The sixpence was minted from1558 to 1967.
Sometime in the 17th century, the lords of manors presented a sixpence to a new bride as a wedding gift.  As the century progressed, it became a tradition for the parents of the bride to give a sixpence as a dowry gift to the groom.  Perhaps this was a little surprise he would find in her shoe as she undressed?  This became a good luck tradition over time and the custom continues in English speaking countries around the world, always worn in the left shoe.

A fun collectible if you get bored with just coins, are love tokens.  Sometimes coins(a sixpence would be ideal) would be polished flat on one or both sides.
They would be engraved with poems, "Harry loves Anne" type mottoes or phrases, flowers and other designs significant to the lady who was destined to receive it.  They can be a loose disc, hung as pendants or on charm bracelets.  You even find the figures on the coin sawed out and engraved on the remaining back of the figure.
They are getting rare, but they are out there.  Take them off jewelry, as they will be wearing out as they are worn.  Either that or display them on the jewelry without being worn.
This is still a very romantic thing to do.  Perhaps you could take the sixpence from the bride's shoe, polish it flat, and have that engraved with wedding dates and names and a cute: I love you.  Vous et nul autre... is one of my favorites.  You and no others.  Not quite as romantic in English.  Perhaps in the bride's family's native language.                 


Many of these are modern coins, meaning since Shakespeare, and all make interesting budget coins for modern reigns.
Early on there were pennies, half pennies(usually just cut in half) Groats, half Groats and other mysterious names.
The average Joe is not likely to be able to buy any of the higher denominations or gold coins of the period...Just beyond most peoples' budget.

Because I cannot use the symbols for various denominations of money, I direct you to a great web page that explains the pre "New Pence" system.   New Pence came along in 1971.  Take a look at a movie called: "A Room With a View" to see the problems even the English had with their system, when Charlotte needs help paying for her cab. (The Merchant/Ivory version) The old system was a mess for those not raised with it, but in spite of the problems, the decimal based New Pence system is not nearly as romantic.

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