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Numismatics and Superstitions

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Halloween's a-comin'! I dug up an old thread about numismatic-related superstitions http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php?/topic/5827-superstitions/page__p__171901__hl__halloween__fromsearch__1#entry171901


What coin or banknote superstitions do you know?


I can think of throwing coins in a fountain for a wish.


Or putting pennies in penny-loafers for... who knows why.


Any ones you know abut?

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Two dollar bills are considered tainted because 2 bucks was the basic bet at the race tracks and so "decent" people wouldn't want to be seen with twos.

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Gram used to rub a dollar on a kid's head for luck then spend it on a lottery ticket.


We have another tradition of stamping our hands when we see a white horse, when you get a hundred stamps you will find a nickel. It is a tradition that has passed from my great grandparents on down to the present day, even my kids do it.

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Here's the original stuff I wrote:



I've always found them quite fascinating. But as for Hallowe'en, We could also post images of notes or coins with monsters, creatures, etc, too I suppose. Might be a good thread, no?


I actually meant to do that! I knew I forgot to make a topic. Go for it, Dave!!

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A cent is lucky if it is found heads up. If I come across one reverse up, I turn it over for the next person to find.


Here's the original stuff I wrote: ...


Thanks, Dave, that was interesting. It is a long list. One thing: about knives and scissors. In the movie The Edge I forgot who gives what exactly, so I looked it up. Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins) is given a knife for his birthday and he returns a coin to the giver saying that when a man gives you a knife, you give him a coin in return lest the bond of friendship be cut.

A 6d in the bride's shoe is supposed to bring blessings to the marriage.


I did that for my sister. They knew where to come for a sixpence.

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  • 4 years later...

I find Folklore fascinating, and often it touches on scientific truths. We now know silver has anti-bacterial properties, so no wonder our relatives thought it was special.


My interest in sixpences definitely has something to do with their ubiquity in several nursery rhymes, and their association with good luck.


This is a personal superstition, but I don't like cartwheel pennies much, mainly because they would have been weighting down so many corpses' eyes. They just make me shiver.


My mum would buy your warts off you for 20p and they would seem to disappear when you spent the money. I presume 20p is the decimal equivant of the shilling her grandfather bought them for. i'd hate to think I was underpaid.


The concept of payment and debt pops up everywhere in life. Even the Royal Mint now acknowledge the Tooth Fairy.

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I should clarify, these are British superstitions, so there are plenty more where those came from.


I think a lot of the sixpence superstitions have their roots in the biblical thirty pieces of silver, the sixpence would be the coin to carry such superstitions as even lower income families would be familar with them. People still buy sixpences off ebay to bake into christmas puddings and sometimes christmas cakes. If you recieve the sixpence you get a years worth of luck. But if you choke on one or break a tooth, that's clearly not so lucky.


Romany families, even today, wear a lot of gold sovereign jewellery. This harks back to the need for nomadic people to carry their wealth with them for security. They do see gold as an impure metal compared to silver, I'm told.


My partner points out that placing pennies on dead people's eyes, apart from being useful to undertakers, is also to pay the Ferryman across the River Styx. He also has heard the one above,that to pick up a found coin with tails showing is unlucky.


It's seen as bad form to give someone a wallet or coin purse as a gift without at least a penny in it, or else you condemn them to poverty.


And finally, now I know why so many coins in my collection are ruined by holes:



Edit to add: I'd really like to read the former threads on this but the links direct to page not found?

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I used to keep a 'lucky' piece -- I stopped for two reasons. The first was I stopped believing in luck and in my ability to influence it, and the second was I felt really guilty adding to the circulatedness of a vintage coin. That said, when I completed a model of the Yellow Submarine, it much more appropriate to me that the coin I put in it as ballast (they recommended a US cent) was a sixpence from the 1960s. :)


The folklore about silver is interesting -- recall that it's silver bullets that one uses against a werewolf, rather than gold, and silver objects are effective against vampires and other legendary critters as well. I suspect that legend came down to that form because silver was something that almost everyone could scrape up a little of; gold was out of reach to your average serf and might as well be Kryptonite, but silver pence were minted all the way up to the reign of Charles II, and since halfpence and farthings were just silver pence halved or quartered, pretty much everyone could get their hands on at least a little silver. Assuming (and I don't know for sure and welcome correction) Continental coinage of that period was comparable, that's probably why silver gained its place as a protectant against evil spirits and monsters, rather than gold. It was scarce enough to have an aura of mystique about it, but not so scarce that it was utterly unavailable.


That's my theory anyway, and I am not a folklorist. :)

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