David Pickup writes:
I went to a symposium in York recently mainly about early medieval coins. One talk was on burial coins. It made we wonder what coin I would like to be buried with. Coins seem to have been buried with people to demonstrate status rather than for use in the afterlife. I think I would either go for a pound coin as i can never find one when I need one to use in the supermarket trolley or a pre decimal penny. Although low in value the Britannia figure is high in status and much missed on today's coins.
We've often discussed coins placed on the eyelids of the deceased, but rarely "burial coins" per se. I'm sure our archaeologist friends will have plenty of examples of these. I wonder what modern customs persist today in different cultures. Anyone know of a numismatist who couldn't bear to leave a favorite coin behind for other collectors? Meanwhile, below of an excerpt from an earlier E-Sylum article about a numismatic trove purportedly buried with Admiral Nelson at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Regarding Paul Sherry's September 23, 2007 E-Sylum
submission, web site visitor Robert Ward writes: "I came
across your article while Googling ‘Robert Mylne’, whose
biography I recently wrote. It was published in April 2007
and might interest your readers.
"It includes an account of the prize-giving ceremony in
Rome, and of Mylne’s various deposits of medals in different
parts of the structure of the old Blackfriars Bridge,
uncovered when the bridge was demolished in the 1860s,
with some relevant illustrations.
"It also relates the previously unpublished events concerning
Nelson’s burial. Briefly Robert Mylne, who as cathedral surveyor
of St Paul’s was responsible for constructing the tomb, agreed
with Matthew Boulton to make a secret deposit of some of Boulton’s
coins and medals under Nelson’s coffin."
"Surviving correspondence between Mylne and his longstanding
friend Boulton, which had lain unnoticed among Boulton’s
papers for two centuries, describes this extraordinary plan
in detail. Mylne asked for ‘a compleat Series of all you
have ever done ... even to farthings’ and explained that his
motive was ‘to bury your Glories for the instruction and
admiration of future times, what was done in this Country
in these times; along with the Glories of the Greatest Seaman
and Warior that has ever existed...’
"Boulton in turn proposed that the coins and medals should
be laid in the tomb in pulverized glass between sheets of
plate glass enclosed with a frame of slate or marble,
explaining that ‘the principle of preservation of Metals
is perfect exclusion from air and moisture’.
"If, as seems likely, Mylne’s deposit is still in place, it
must rank as one of the most tantalising of buried treasures.
Under the hero’s coffin in the base of a massive granite tomb
in St Paul’s crypt, precisely under the centre of the cathedral’s
dome, it is safe from all interference - a time capsule awaiting
the arrival of some archaeologist from the remote future,
just as Mylne intended."
Robert Ward's book, "The Man Who Buried Nelson, The Surprising
Life of Robert Mylne" was published in paperback by Tempus in
2007 at £14.99.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ROBERT MYLNE AND THE LONDON BLACKFRIARS BRIDGE CORNERSTONE MEDALS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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