Both sides of the same coin. Head and tails. (please click to enlarge images)
Maybe this object is the end of a story or equally likely the beginning; depending where you get on and where you get off.
This is where I get on – It was my birthday on Thursday (thank you, you’re so kind) and in the post I received an envelope from a friend, Mary, from distance past, containing this coin. Out walking her dog recently in small-town Rocky Hill, New Jersey, USA, she looked down to find this coin on the wintery pavement (sidewalk), picked it up (she’s the original magpie) and thought immediately of me; something to send me on my birthday.
The coin is an unassuming object looking for all the world like an American Penny or 1 cent coin. On closer inspection she observed the coin was British since it had a Kings head on one face.
Upon receiving the coin I could tell by the weight that this was something different. I polished it (something a serious collector of coin would never contemplate having seen countless coins rubbed to fraction of their original state) It turned out this coin was, is, inscribed ‘George VI King and Emperor of India’, dated 1938, half-penny of Jamaica, made of nickel/brass and very attractive too. No bottom-of-the-range cheapo copper alloy. The coin itself is not worth a fortune ($25 top whack) but is never-the-less a beautiful object, a super gift, and an enigma.
What is most strange is how did such a lovely object in use nearly 100 years ago, having the sound of the sea and warmth of the tropical sun in it’s being, find itself on a wintery pavement in Rocky Hill, New Jersey?
It’s not local coinage and not current legal tender. Did someone have the coin loose in his (her) pocket when reaching for a handkerchief, spill the coin to the pavement? Why would it be there anyway? Unlikely it was a coin collector on his way to sell some of his collection to an acquaintance or an auction house; he would have taken more care. Perhaps the coin of a ghostly ancient mariner from Kingston Bay visiting…..there’s room for some fiction too….
So what is the story of this exotic little object some 18mm in diameter, in near mint condition, beautifully designed and manufactured to last a very long time.
Who knows? I bet it could tell a story or two…