Two Coppers and an Ape Knee

1921     George V was on the throne of England,   Billy Hughes was Prime Minister of Australia, Harry Lawson (from Castlemaine)  was Premier of Victoria and Charlie Chaplin starred in “The Kid”.  Ginger Meggs made his first appearance in a comic strip, Australia beat England 5-0 at cricket (howzat ?} and Tom Tansey used three coins – – two pennies and one halfpenny — as a fob  to weight the end of his watch chain, with the help of a black grosgrain ribbon.Fob Watch Halfpenny b Fob Watch Penny back bSince the  Crimes (Currency) Act 1981 (Australia) it has been a criminal offence to deface or destroy current Australian currency coins but in the past it was quite common to punch a hole in coins and use them as a fob.     Fob Watch 1 bAnd do I have a photo showing Tom wearing his watch ?  Unfortunately no.  There are plenty  of photos of Tom in band uniform and but very few family photos of him.  And so it is hard to work out exactly how Tom wore his pocket watch.  The map and two shields on the black grosgrain ribbon seem to suggest that this ribbon may have been worn horizontally with a chain and watch attached  He may have kept his pocket watch in his trouser pocket or his waistcoat pocket.  He may have attached the chain through a buttonhole.  He may have ……I will probably never know.

Tom&Amelia 1940s Sydney

Tom In Sydney in the 1940s but no sign of a watch chain,

Fob Watch Three coins b

And so — two pence and a halfpenny

–                        tuppence and a ha’penny

–                                two coppers and a ha’penny

–                                         two coppers and an ape knee

More Money, Money, Money stories to be found in this week’s

Sepia Saturday

11 thoughts on “Two Coppers and an Ape Knee

  1. jofeath

    Love your heading and its derivation, and the explanatory photographs too. My sister who’s a jeweller made me a pendant using a NZ penny, and two pairs of thripenny (threepenny?) bit 1952 earrings, one using NZ coins and the other using Australian coins, as I was born in 1952 in NZ, but came here when I was 3 in 1956. Perhaps I should have used 1956 for the Aussie ones, but I’m glad to know they are legal, in Australia at least!

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  2. jamestaylor

    I can remember men — old men — wearing coins on their watch chains. Very useful things the old pennies. One of the loves of my life was a 1938 Dodge (light-6). The only thing that soured this relationship was that the welsh plugs that the engine came fitted with had a tendency to rust out with the result that one lost all the water, there was no coolant used like today. A mechanic showed me how to beat a penny with a ball-peen hammer so that it became domed. Slip the altered coin into the plug hole, tap the raised centre with the hammer until it straightened out and fitted securely in the engine block and no more worries. I made sure that George faced outwards so he could keep an eye on his colony.

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  3. postcardy

    I have some charm bracelets made with coins. One is all 1955 Canadian pennies that my parents brought me back from a trip to Canada. Another is made up of a various types of older U.S. coins. These don’t have holes drilled in the coins. I also have some old earrings made with coins that have the space in between the head and rim sawed out.

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  4. La Nightingail

    A neat & different take on the theme. I had a bracelet once full of different coins though I never paid attention to where they were from. I think I might still have it. I should take a closer look at them! But what really caught my eye were the two clips (?) in the middle of each section of ribbon. My husband’s U.S. Forest Service badge is so similar in shape, my eye went right to them.

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  5. Karen S.

    You never know, some of those were hidden inside pockets! Great photo of them walking along, as well as your other coins pictures.

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  6. Mike Brubaker

    A fine memory about a rarely seen personal detail. I was reminded about the phrase “so poor he didn’t have two pennies to rub together”.

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  7. Wendy

    I’ve seen gold coins and special dimes made into necklaces here in the US, but I’ve never heard whether doing so is a crime. Very interesting story.

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