Does Love or Money Make the World Go Around?

Both these well-known beliefs are as true today as they’ve ever been, but we believe they can be combined, because coins as love tokens and gifts have long played their part in romantic rituals. There are many records of such traditions, some stretching back centuries. With today’s fashion for all things vintage, maybe now is a good time to resurrect them, so – how would you feel about that special person in your life demonstrating their love for you with the gift of a coin?

1672 Britannia coin

Before you answer too quickly, let’s take a look at some of the history and meaning behind such an idea. It is thought that in the 17th Century the love-struck King Charles II was so enamoured of Frances Stewart (ONE of his many loves) that he asked for the design of Britannia on his coinage to be inspired by her beautiful image – although there is no definite record that his wishes were carried out, the diarist Samuel Pepys remarked that the Britannia design did bear a striking resemblance to the future Duchess of Richmond. Her image has changed, but Britannia has remained a feature of modern British coinage ever since – lasting far longer than any marriage ever has!

Charles wished to demonstrate his devotion, but for those who lack such royal influence there are many other coin-related superstitions and beliefs aimed at those in love. For instance, once-upon-a-time in Derbyshire young girls believed they would dream of their future husband if they placed a sprig of rosemary and a crooked sixpence under their pillows on All-Hallows Day. Another old custom was to make a hole in a coin before giving it to your lover, so it could be worn around their neck on a ribbon, as a reminder of your love. Similarly, if a couple were forced to spend long periods apart, a coin might be cut in two for each to keep a half as a love token during their separation.

In the late 18th century, coins were often engraved with names, monograms or romantic designs, such as a love arrow or Cupid’s knot, to be worn as medallions. And thousands of convicted Britons, before being transported to Australia, spent hours engraving cartwheel pennies with messages of affection and fond wishes to leave to their loved ones. We have to say, though, that such damaging of coins is illegal these days as they bear the Queen’s image.

Copper Cartwheel Twopence, 1797
Copper Cartwheel Twopence, 1797

The giving of coins to your lover may be less well-known these days, but many of our present coins bear designs of great artistic beauty, and those age-old customs show that coins and money have long symbolised luck, love and unity and, obviously prosperity. Such symbols chime naturally with lovers, although maybe not always as romantically as we’d like to think. Discarding our rose-tinted spectacles for five minutes at this special time of year, it’s true to say that man has killed, stolen and married for love and money throughout history!

On the subject or marriage, coins and money still play a part in wedding traditions across the world. In Britain many brides follow the traditional poem; ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ when choosing their bridal wear, but not all know the last line of the poem ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe’.

The Wedding Lucky Silver Sixpence
The Wedding Lucky Silver Sixpence

This relates to the bride’s father slipping a sixpence coin into his daughter’s left shoe on the way to the altar, to wish the happy couple luck and a long and prosperous life together.

We all know that in modern times everyone has come to like (and maybe even expect?) chocolates and flowers, the expensive restaurant, a really nice weekend away and possibly jewellery too. Some less romantic souls may feel it’s more ‘sensible’ to give a gift of the money itself, but this can be risky as it’s often not well-received, especially if the other party IS a romantic soul! So why not play safe and combine love and money by choosing a beautiful coin from The Royal Mint that perfectly reflects your sentiments for the object of your affections – after all, while many other gifts are temporary, a coin lasts forever, and isn’t that what we want most from true love?

Related Posts