Geen Geld, Geen Zwitsers

Print from series Military Uniforms in America depicting members of Count de Meuron's Swiss Regiment, including a musician, a private, and a company officer. [Rutland, Mass.] : Company of Military Collectors & Historians, 1958.
Print from series Military Uniforms in America depicting members of Count de Meuron’s Swiss Regiment, including a musician, a private, and a company officer. [Rutland, Mass.] : Company of Military Collectors & Historians, 1958.

CAUTION TO TOURISTS.– The following comes from an old correspondent:– I strongly advise my countrymen not to reside in Lausanne, unless they are prepared to submit to police requirements and official impertinence. The Swiss were highly jubilant when they obtained freedom from passports in France; but since then the Lausanne police have been more exacting than ever, and have been serving notices on tourists and English residents to show their passports or pay a fine of six francs! This is gratitude with a vengeance! We may well say ‘point d’argent point de Suisse.’ –S.J.

Notes and Queries, 5th S. I. Mar. 21, ’74.

Two Kings’ Heads Not Worth a Crown

Counterstamped Spanish American 8 Real coin issued by Treasury with a value of 4s. 9d. to supplement a deficiency in British silver coins; the original coin, a 1787 F.M. 8 Real from the Mexico City Mint, Mexico. Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Counterstamped Spanish American 8 Real coin issued by Treasury with a value of 4s. 9d. to supplement a deficiency in British silver coins; the original coin, a 1787 F.M. 8 Real from the Mexico City Mint, Mexico. Museum Victoria, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

SPANISH DOLLARS. Some of your readers are old enough to remember the time when Spanish dollars circulated in this country. They were made current in Britain by stamping them with the head of the sovereign, George III. The punch by which this was done was about the size of the king’s head, or “duty mark,” on silver plate. I have just met with the following epigram on this subject, which is worth preserving in your pages. I quote from a letter of Robert Southey’s, dated April 26, 1797, printed in Joseph Cottle’s Reminiscences of Coleridge and Southey, 1847, p. 210:

I supped last night with Ben Flower, of Cambridge, at Mr. P.’s, and never saw so much coarse strength in a countenance. He repeated to me an epigram on the dollars, which perhaps you may not have seen:–

“To make Spanish dollars with Englishmen pass,
Stamp the head of a fool on the tail of an ass.”

A.O.V.P.

— Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. May 5, ’66.

SPANISH DOLLARS (3rd S. ix. 368.) — Your correspondent has committed an error in this couplet, which spoils the sense. The tail of an ass is nothing. On these dollars the head of George III., in an octagon cartouche, about three-eighths of an inch by one quarter of an inch, was stamped upon the neck of Charles III., and this gave point to the line, which should be:

“To make dollars current and legally pass,
Stamp the head of a fool on the neck of an ass.”

H.W.D.

— Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. June 2, ’66.

In 1797 an attempt was made by the Treasury to supplement the deficiency of silver coinage by the issue of Spanish dollars, and half, quarter and eighth dollars, countermarked on the obverse with the bust of George III, the stamp, a small oval one, being that used by the Goldsmiths’ Company for stamping the plate of this country. These counterstamped dollars, &c., have on one side the bust of Charles III (or IV) of Spain, and on the other the Spanish arms. The dollar was to be current at 4s. 9d., which gave rise to the saying “two kings’ heads not worth a crown.” On account of the numerous forgeries of this counterstamp, another one was adopted in 1804. It was somewhat larger, octagonal in shape, and with the head of the king as on the Maundy penny of the time. This stamp also was soon counterfeited. In the same year the Bank of England received permission to issue a dollar of the current value of 5s., and this permission was extended in 1811 to pieces of the value of three shillings and eighteen-pence. […] Dies were also prepared for pieces of the value of 5s. 6d. and 9d., but none were issued for circulation.

— Herbert Appold Grueber, Handbook of the Coins of Great Britain and Ireland in the British Museum, p. 150.

Glastonbury Thorn

17th century engraving of Glastonbury by Wenceslas Hollar; Wenceslas Hollar Digital Collection, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.
17th century engraving of Glastonbury by Wenceslas Hollar; Wenceslas Hollar Digital Collection, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

THE CHRISTMAS THORN.– A friend of mine met a girl on Old Christmas Day, in a village of North Somerset who told him that she was going to see the Christmas Thorn in blossom. He accompanied her to an orchard; where he found a tree, propagated from the celebrated Glastonbury Thorn, and gathered from it several sprigs in blossom. Afterwards the girl’s mother informed him, that it had been formerly the custom for the youth of both sexes to assemble under the tree at midnight, on Christmas Eve, in order to hear the bursting of the buds into flower; and she added: “As they comed out, you could hear ‘um haffer.”

Jennings, and after him Halliwell, give this word haffer for to “crackle, to patter, to make repeated loud noises.” C.W. BINGHAM.

— Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. Jan. 6, ’66.

Glastonbury.– A vast concourse of people attended the noted thorn on Christmas-day, new style; but, to their great disappointment, there was no appearance of its blowing, which made them watch it narrowly the 5th of January, the Christmas-day, old style, when it blowed as usual.

— Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1753.

Cinderella

Émile Bertrand's poster for Jules Massenet's Cendrillon, advertising the première performance at the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris.
Émile Bertrand’s poster for Jules Massenet’s Cendrillon, advertising the première performance at the Théâtre National de l’Opéra-Comique, Paris.

They tell the fabulous story that, when she was bathing, an eagle snatched one of her sandals from her maid and carried it to Memphis; and while the king was administering justice in the open air, the eagle, when it arrived above his head, flung the sandal into his lap; and the king, stirred both by the beautiful shape of the sandal and by the strangeness of the occurrence, sent men in all directions into the country in quest of the woman who wore the sandal; and when she was found in the city of Naucratis, she was brought up to Memphis, became the wife of the king…

Strabo, Geographica, Book 17, 33.

CINDERELLA.– The mention of ladies attending assemblies in slippers, and of pumpkins and lizards being found in the garden, makes it probable this story came from the East. Chindee is Hindoo word for ragged clothing, and Ella a not uncommon woman’s name in India. The story of Catskin, in Mr. Halliwell’s Nursery Rhymes of England, very like that of Cinderella, is to be of Eastern origin. The main incident in the story of Cinderella has a parallel in history. Strabo relates that an eagle let fall the slipper of Rhodopis into the bosom of a king of Egypt, who was so struck with the smallness of it, that made proclamation he would marry the female to whom it belonged. In the Fairy Tales of the Countess of D’Anois, Cinderella appears under the name of Finetta — a name not unlike the Tamil word Punetta, meaning Little Kitten, and used by Hindoo women when addressing their children. Pussy (pusei) is also a Tamil name for a cat. The Tamil belongs to the Turanian family of languages, of which the Lap, Fin, and Turkish are members. What is the generally accepted derivation of our word pussy? H.C.

Notes and Queries, 3rd S. IX. Jan. 6, ’66.