"Keep me and have good luck": Encased Coins and Superstition
by Benjamin Keele
Originally Published in the Associated Collectors of the
Somehow money has been adapted to many different uses other than just a medium of trade. People have endowed coins with superstitious connotations. Encased coins, with their standard inscription of "Keep me and have good luck," are just another manifestation of superstitions relating to money.
Superstition and belief in luck seems to have existed since the creation of man. This is likely because people always seek to explain mysterious phenomena. If one not explain some seemingly random misfortune, just chalk it up to bad luck. Likewise, people reason, one can somehow influence his or her luck, either by observing certain practices or keeping certain items, such as coins.
Many superstitions are related to coins. When a person finds a cent sitting on the sidewalk, if it is heads-up or marked with the person's birth date, then that person should pick it up and keep it as a good luck charm.
To decide some questions, such as what football team will have the ball first, a coin is flipped. People allow random chance, or luck, to determine the course of action.
Coins are a part of many ceremonies as well. According to tradition, a bride should carry a coin in her shoe to bring good luck and prosperity upon her new family. In ancient Greek mythology, coins were put over the eyes of the dead. The coins served two purposes: first, they held down the eyelids; and second, they were the toll for the ferry into the Underworld.
Encased coins are almost the epitome of this tradition of superstitious connections to coins. Many encased coins carry multiple symbols of good luck. They carry the legend "Keep me and have good luck." Many encasements also depict four-leaf clovers and horseshoes-in fact, some encasements are in the shape of a horseshoe.
These symbols and promises of good luck, or course, were intended to entice people to keep them for a long period of time and thus carry around a constant advertisement for the issuer.
At any rate, encased coins represent a basic human need: knowledge that some higher power is on our side in life. Thus encased coins, like all numismatic items, are another manifestation of practices and beliefs in human civilization.
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