Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 4 August 2013
Too dead to be questioned
Ok, last collectible artifact in the current series - for the time being.
Ever since the Grand Tours of the 18th century, wealthy British tourists have been traipsing up the sides of Mount Vesuvius and getting children to stick coins into spoonfuls of hot lava, so that they can bring them back as mementos. Most of the others I have seen have had coins with a date beginning with 17** stamped into them, but this one has 1940.
It is a coin from the fascist era of Mussolini's Italy (it even has a fasce behind the shield), but because the last eruption of Vesuvius was 1944, and the coin itself seems a little worn, I would say it had been put there a few years later. The old Grand Tour ones would often have a new coin in them, with the exact year of it's planting.
So I wonder who made this, and how it ended up in Britain, 70 or so years later?
Could it have been brought over with an Italian prisoner of war (we had hundreds - maybe thousands working peacefully away on farms here, and many stayed behind and married locals)? Was it bought by a modern British tourist after 1945? Was it brought over by an Italian tourist visiting Bath, or - most likely - was it brought back by a British soldier from Naples at the war's end?
That is what I like about these objects - they all have a story to tell, and most of them remain mysterious by not telling it. The original owners are usually too dead to be questioned about them too, but I prefer it that way. As with most things, you can choose which truth you like the best.