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My Coin Collection

December 6, 2018
by the gentle author

Around twenty years ago, I bought this coin from a street trader at the time of the excavation of the Roman cemetery in Spitalfields. In 1576, John Stow wrote about the Roman coins that were dug up here in Spitalfields and I suspect mine came from the same source. A visit to the British Museum confirmed that the coin had been minted in London and the piercing was done in the Roman era when it was the custom to wear coins as amulets. So somebody wore this coin in London all those centuries ago and today I wear it on a string around my neck to give me a sense of perspective.

As you can see, my collection has grown as I have discovered that coin collectors are eager to dispose of pierced coins at low prices and I have taken on the responsibility of wearing them on behalf of their previous owners. It was only when the string broke in Princelet St one dark night in the rain and I found myself scrabbling in the gutter to retrieve them all that I realised how much they mean to me.

Coin of the Emperor Arcadius minted in London

Figure of Minerva upon the reverse

Silver sixpence minted at the Tower of London, 1569

Head of Queen Elizabeth and Tudor rose

Silver sixpence minted at the Tower of London, 1602

Head of Elizabeth

Silver sixpence, 1676

Head of Charles II

Farthing, 1749

Head of George II

Silver sixpence, 1758

Head of George II

Young Queen Victoria

Half Farthing, 1844

Head of Queen Victoria

Silver sixpence, 1896

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. December 6, 2018

    Hi Gentle Author !

    Blimey !!!!
    Still waters certainly run deep !

    I didn’t know you collected coins but would just like to confirm your thoughts about punching holes in them to convert them into amulets (as per my own example)

    Best regards


  2. December 6, 2018

    I like the idea of this. I bought a 1960 (the year of my birth) threepenny bit with a hole drilled in a couple of years ago. I don’t wear it around my neck but on my key ring. I love wondering whose hands it might have gone through. It does give you a sense of perspective.

  3. Ron Bunting permalink
    December 6, 2018

    Farthings were gong out of use before I started High school in my country but I had never heard of a half farthing before .It shows how degraded our currency has become with most small demonination coins being discontinued.

    Cheers and a Merry Christmas!! Ron B.

  4. December 6, 2018

    I like your collection of “ruined” coins. A couple of minor comments however. If the roman coin is Arcadius it can’t be from the London mint which closed under Constantine about seventy years earlier. Also the Charles II 1676 sixpence is a 3d.

  5. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    December 6, 2018

    I’m touched by the tangible connection these coins have created between you and the souls who wore them centuries ago. I hope their spirits walk with you and give you guidance, comfort and protection.


  6. December 6, 2018

    How interesting……..True collectors feel that the coins are, ahem, devalued because they have been defaced by holes. And here I am thinking how much MORE valuable they are, due to the
    “wearable” aspect of them. To have such incredibly-fascinating coins……and to ALSO know they have been worn as regalia — Well, that is very special indeed.
    Thank you for sharing so much with us, including this admirable collection of wearable history.

  7. mlaiuppa permalink
    December 6, 2018

    String them like pearls and tie a knot between each coin. Then if the string breaks you won’t be scrambling for more than one coin.

    If I were wearing these, I would put a jump ring through the hole in each coin, then use a chain and put the jump ring through the loop in the chain. Then no breaking and no scrambling. Rather like a charm necklace.

    I have a “birthday farthing” I bought on eBay. It bears the date of the year I was born. I bought a coin locket for it so I can wear it as a pendant on a chain as it has no hole.

  8. Leana Pooley permalink
    December 6, 2018

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos. I now know that all I want for Christmas is a Roman coin with a hole in it.

  9. December 6, 2018

    Yesterday I was shopping online for a Roman coin to reward my daughter for completing a Latin learning milestone. The website had some interesting and inexpensive offerings. (The uncleaned Roman coins from Britain that they sell are the hardest to clean apparently. And therefore the cheapest to buy!)

    I was surprised to then see this post from you, GA. So glad you didn’t lose your wonderful coins. Thanks for telling us about them!

  10. Susan permalink
    December 7, 2018

    How good of you to wear history daily for the inhabitants past of London and londonium. They would be amazed at the city that has grown to replace their own, but perhaps comforted that their world is not forgotten.

  11. Sara from Iowa USA permalink
    December 7, 2018

    One of my favorite posts!

  12. December 7, 2018

    “Silver sixpence minted at the Tower of London, 1602”. How much did a sixpence in 1602 represent in terms of wealth? Was it a weeks wage for a labourer? A month’s for a laundress? Is you wearing it around your neck the temporal equivalent of walking around with a thousand quid around your neck?!!

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