To give a lucky silver coin to a baby has been a preferred gift for hundreds of years. If you cross the palm of a new born baby with a silver coin it’s said to bring it good luck and a lifetime of wealth – and with the new future King of England being born yesterday, many people are wondering what gifts to give within their own family on similar occasions. Many businesses might be wishing to raise their profile with a gift being sent to London this week too.
While there are many practical gifts, some keepsakes stay with a baby for life and are cherished. It’s good to give a gift that’s going to be cherished and one way we can look to achieving this is to turn back to old customs.
Sixpence coins used to have a high sterling silver content, although you should aim for one made before 1920, when the sterling silver content was highest, whereas something like a 1946 sixpence contains 50% sterling silver.
Of course, such a keepsake should be kept safe by the parents, away from a baby, but it’s one of those little trinkets that won’t be discarded later in life, but will be kept and cherished.
Coins are linked to many old traditions as bringers of good luck. Silver was mined in Cornwall during Saxon times and Roman times, but then it started to become scarce, with the last silver being mined in Cornwall in 1898. There are no silver mines operating at the moment, so the option of finding a Cornish silver coin is slim, evidence still exists of the previous silver mines, although tin mines have a greater exposure in the area:
In 1808 Pinkerton wrote
“The only silver mine in this county is Huel-Mexico, situated to the left of the road leading from St Agnes to St Michael, and not far from the sea, the sand of which covers all the adjacent country.”
Huel Mexico silver mine was in Cubert, just outside Newquay. A report of this mine in 1814 remarked “… the expense exceeded the profit, notwithstanding it produced considerable quantities of rich horn-silver, with some crystallized in cubes….”
In 1813 a silver mine in Cornwall was mentioned in a trade publication:
“A very interesting discovery has recently been made in Cornwall. A regular silver vein has been found just on the Cornish side of the River Tamar. Although small quantities of this precious metal have frequently been got in cross veins, in the mines of Cornwall, yet no regular silver lode has ever before been met with. This vein was found, and traced from the surface, and is now regularly worked as a silver mine.”
remwbay silver sixpence
Image © woody1778a