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Sum Associated with Hangman's Pay
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
October 07, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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What was so special about the amount 13 pence halfpenny in Tyburn, England?
If you carried this specific sum of money you were carrying the hangman’s wages. The term hangman’s wages was assigned to the Scottish merk following the union of Scotland and England at which time the coin was declared current at that fee.

I just purchased some ten-penny nails in the local hardware store. What is the origin of calling them “penny” nails?
British law forbade American colonists from manufacturing their own nails, ensuring they would have to purchase their nails from England. Since nails were a scarce commodity in the American colonies the colonists resorted to burning down old buildings to recycle the nails. Due to their scarcity the nails were also traded as a form of odd and curious money. The value of nails being traded as barter was priced in English pennies. Some sold for 10 pennies per hundred, while others sold for 16 pennies per hundred. Today these are known as sixpenny and tenpenny nails for this reason.

What is the “godless” Canada half dollar of 1911?
It appears there was a lack of communication not only between God and the king, but between the Canadian Minister of Finance and the British Royal Mint. The 1911 die tools were made in England and shipped to the new Canadian branch of the Royal Mint. The Finance minister approved the die tools “presumably in his haste to speed up the arrival of the tools.” King Edward VII had died in 1910. The mint was impatiently awaiting appropriate die tools to strike coins for King George V the following year. While Edward’s coinage included the Latin legend “Edwardus VII Dei Gratia Rex Imperator” the new dies for George’s initial coinage included a legend reading “Georguis V Rex Et Ind. Imp.” Dei Gratia is Latin for “by the grace of God.” The king was not amused.

Is there a numismatic connection to the term Bah, Humbug?
The comment “Bah, Humbug” was immortalized in Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol. The term “Humbug” dates at least from the time of King James II, who was busy spending nearly worthless gun money coins in Ireland following having been chased off the English throne. The gun money coins were called “ulm bog” by the local Irish, meaning the coins were a sham or a fraud. As with so many terms “ulm bog” was eventually mangled into “humbug.” Dickens added the “bah.”

I’ve heard of Flussgelddukaten coins, but what exactly are they?
Flussgelddukaten are German gold coins of the 17th to the 19th centuries on which the legend or iconography identify the gold content as originating from local rivers. The English equivalent to Flussgelddukaten is river gold ducat. Coins struck by various German principalities between the 17th and 19th centuries using gold-bearing sand from the Danube, Edder, Inn, Isar, Rhine, and Schwarza rivers are the true Flussgelddukaten coins.

I’ve been told by coin dealers my Spanish colonial coin recovered from a treasure ship is worth much less than I paid for it. Why the disparity?
The word “treasure” has become a marketing tool used by companies selling coins recovered from 16th to 18th century Spanish ships and others. The public loves the word treasure, but is oblivious to the fact these coins have been recovered in large numbers, which means they are not rare. Since the coins were recovered from the sea, this also means they have environmental damage, even if they are restored. Logic would tell us the established price for coins of this type should go down when such finds are offered publicly, but due to the psychology of the word treasure, the price goes up – until the initial buyer enthusiasm passes and the coin enters the more discriminating collector markets.

British Trade Dollar coins were struck at several mints. Where do I find the mintmark?
The mintmark on British Trade Dollars appears as a small letter at the prongs of the trident being held by Britannia.

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