Square-cut 1602 sixpence with hole in top middle
English Sixpence, Holed

A colonist modified this silver English sixpence to wear it as a lucky charm. The coin was clipped into a rectangular shape around its 1602 date and pierced for wearing as a pendant. In addition, the clipping has created a Greek cross, with arms of equal length, out of the long cross dividing the Royal coat of arms on the coin. The careful incorporation of the cross and the date suggests that the year was of significance to the pendant’s wearer, for whom the coin held extra powers such as protection or connection to distant loved ones.

Belief in the magical properties of coins was a particularly long-held tradition in the British Isles. For centuries before Jamestown, individuals ascribed supernatural powers to coins as amulets for healing or for protection against bodily harm. “Crossed” coins, or those incorporating a cross symbol in the decorative elements, were particularly favored. Even today, British brides often walk down the aisle with a sixpence in their shoes for good luck. Hence the saying:

Something old, something new

Something borrowed, something blue

And a silver sixpence in her shoe.