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.

11 comments:

  1. Now I like this
    On our book Shelf Is a piece of concrete
    Part of ALCATRAZ

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  2. I like it too. Our shelves are covered in stones of no interest, collected by a nine year old who has hoarding tendencies.

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    1. John has hoarding tendencies as well, but not with inanimate objects.

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  3. I've not come across these before. I shall have to build a book shelf.

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    1. Why a book shelf, just out of interest?

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  4. The 18th Century equivalent of ' A Souvenir from Southend ' but far more interesting and romantic. Your more recent one is good too ...... much nicer than any souvenir's we get now ..... do they still do the ' coin in hot lava ' today Tom ? XXXX

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    1. That was a stupid question as it hasn't erupted since 1944 !!!!!! Doh !! XXXX

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    2. ........ and, I got Georaphy O-Level !!!! XXXX

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    3. Georaphy? What did you get for English Language?

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    4. Haha ....... I did get English Language and English Lit...... that was just a slip of the finger { as the actress said ! }

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