Over the year’s cherished treasures that have been hidden or accidentally misplaced, end up lost without explanation. These obscure objects of desire have a memory that lingers on, seemingly forever, surfacing unexpectedly just as in a recent conversation, when the memory set into motion the hands of time reversing the hours with a steady swiftness. Going back into the early years of my childhood, when at the age of ten or eleven we visited England, almost fifty years ago. Though I faintly recall Piccadilly Circus, the London Bridge, before it was dismantled and moved to Arizona, the underground and of course the Queens Palace with the changing of the Guards. However it was a British copper penny that I treasured most and for many years the coin was kept safe in various places until it finally was no more to be seen, yet I never forgot the beauty and wonder the coin imparted upon a very young mind.
In those indelible years I probably believed the penny possessed mysterious powers that I would have garnished from it, believing these to have made me invincible whenever I must have felt threatened from real or imaginary evil forces. On the other hand, memory faintly recalls the penny and other foreign currency to have been my secrete stash, a pirate’s bounty, kept with stamps and other perceived valuables in a small cigar box.
Yesterday I received a light brown envelope, upon which were affixed two British Revenue stamps, contained within was a package of about one hundred foreign stamps, a cigar package wrapping, and a 1939 British copper penny. These items my friend Ian had sent me from England after I had told him about the penny and how much I have missed it all these years. Now that I held the coin in my hand once again, it appeared much smaller then what I remembered, only realizing later that after almost fifty years my hand has tripled in size from that of a child.
Yet as I look at the penny, I cannot help but think about the many hands that it has passed through these last seventy-three years and the history it witnessed during that span. The detail of the coin has little wear, absent are also any visible nicks and scratches, that I begin to wonder if this penny might have been kept by a child who also had it part of his pirate booty. But as the years passed, the coin was lost to him, finding its way through other hands, eventually arriving in my hand, through the intervention of a friend. In regards to the stamps, that story is saved for another time.