One never quite knows what interesting discoveries await when a question is put to the E-Sylum readership. Here's what resulted from last week's query about an unusual "Good Luck" symbol on an old token I'd found in my wrecked car.
The mysterious "good luck symbol" appears to be a series of geometric figures, including a square, a triangle and a parallelogram, plus some other things I cannot make out in the tiny picture. I have no idea why they would collectively be considered a good luck symbol.
Joe Boling writes:
It looks like an Egyptian hieroglyph to me.
Arthur Shippee and Martin Purdy agree. Martin writes:
The bottom-left element looks to be made up of three separate elements. While I'm no expert in the field, I would hazard a guess that they're Egyptian hieroglyphs. What they spell out is beyond me, though
Gar Travis and Jim Wells independently discovered a web site that has the best explanation I've seen so far about these "Good Luck" symbols. Thanks! Jim Wells' write-up is below.
In your June 20 E-Sylum you and Stuart Williams asked about the symbol on a token. I recognized that this design also appears (in reverse) on another 1915 token, for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-16 in San Diego.
This is on the reverse of the Home Economy Building So-Called Dollar, cataloged by Hibler & Kappen as HK-433 in their So-Called Dollars book. They describe the reverse as "Swastika containing 4-leaf clover, horseshoe, wishbone and 3 other good luck emblems; below Good Luck; above, around Membership Emblem of the Dont (sic) Worry Club." Evidently they didn't know what the "3 other good luck emblems" were either.
I Googled "Don't Worry Club" and was led to a Boy Scout leader's website named "World Scout Coins" at
which shows dozens of similar designs, also this description of the symbols in "Three runic symbols in quadrant 4":
"Runic Symbols. Runes are an alphabetic script used by the people of Northern Europe from the first century c.e. until well into the Middle Ages. In addition to their use as a written alphabet, the runes also served as a system of symbols used for magic and divination." (The Runic Journey by Jennifer Smith, 2003.).
"Hence, like the other symbols of luck these runic symbols are of superstition. The three runic symbols that I believe may be the symbols on the tokens stand for: protection, mother goddess, and home and family unity. If you have more information, please email me.
"These three symbols are slightly different than today's standardization of them but I feel it is due to variation in character drawings in the same manner as we all write differently."
He must be correct - it's written on the Internet!
The web site has a great collection of images of similar "Good Luck" tokens of the era, most with one variant or another of these "runic symbols". My John P. Moore token is listed and pictured in the "Other" section.
Pete Smith is still skeptical. He writes:
Many tokens have good luck symbols similar to the John P. Moore token mentioned in The E-Sylum. I am more familiar with the Excelsior Shoe Company tokens associated with Boy Scout tokens. I found several web sites that identify the mystery symbol. Explanations include:
2. Native American symbols
3. Runic symbols for protection, mother goddess, home and family unity
In my opinion, none of these are correct. I see a square, triangle, parallelogram, and semi-circle. I haven't figured out how these represent good luck. I also discovered the web site mentioned by Gar Travis. I then did some research on Runic symbols and could find nothing that corresponded to the symbols on the token.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: WHAT IS THIS STRANGE 'GOOD LUCK' SYMBOL?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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