Sunday, November 2, 2014

NaBloPoMo, 01 Nov edition: Halloween 2014

2014 marks the 24th year I've given out coins at Hallowe'en. You would think that after all this time, I'd have lines at my door, but no, last night only nine kids. For all that, I thought turnout was pretty good, given that we had a light rain all evening. I have never had more than 20 kids at the door.

This year's treats were British threepence coins. While nothing special, I thinkit's something the kids can relate to. Each coin was in a simple 2x2. This I felt necessary so some tiny kid would not choke on a bare coin. Usually I label the 2x2, but that didn't happen this time. (It was all I could do t get the stapler to work properly and not leave sharp edges.)

Perhaps I should simply let my handout explain things further:

Halloween 2014
For children:
What you have is a British three pence coin. Three pence means “three pennies”. In the old British money system, this was roughly equal to our nickel, and at the time had about the buying power of today’s quarter. The coin has 12 sides. Pictured on it is either Queen Elizabeth II (queen since 1952) or her father, King George VI (king from 1936 to 1952). The last such coin was made in 1967. They became obsolete in 1971 when Great Britain “went decimal”, meaning they replaced their pence-shillings-pounds system (12 pence=1 shilling, 20 shillings=1 pound) with 100 pence equals a pound. The first threepences were minted in the 1540s.

For parents and children:
I give out coins at Halloween to interest children in the hobby of coin collecting. I’ve done it every year since I moved here in 1991. My idea is that by studying coins, a child will be able to relate everything they learn in school to some aspect of coins. The more you learn about coins, the more interesting each school subject becomes. On this one coin alone:
Languages: Both Latin and English inscriptions are used, just as on every U.S. coin. And a penny is denoted with a “d” (for Latin denarius), so a threepence is abbreviated 3d. We still use this system in this country in measuring construction nails.
Chemistry: It is made out of brass, an alloy (a mix) of copper (79%), zinc (20%), and nickel (1%).
History: An interesting story of how Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, came to be king. His brother, known as King Edward VIII, was only king for a few months then stepped down to hand the throne to George. A couple of Edward VIII threepence exist, and are extremely rare.
Physics: Quite a bit of technology went into manufacturing a coin with 12 sides, and ensuring it would hold up to daily use.
Art: Someone had to design the coin, both front (obverse) and back (reverse).
Economics: Why was this coin once made out of silver, as recently as about 100 years ago, and why did they stop?
Architecture: Look up “No. 1 Croydon” on Wikipedia. It’s a skyscraper in London, affectionately called the Threepenny Bit Building, because it looks like a stack of threepence coins.
Mathematics: A “thruppence” is 1/80th of a pound. Find out about all the other ways the British have divided up their old pound into pennies, shillings, farthings, crowns, groats, florins, and several others.
Please learn about coins. The more you study, the more interesting everything else will become. I would be happy to visit classrooms, scout troops, and other community organizations to help kids learn about coins. I am selling nothing; I have nothing to sell. I am just trying to interest people in an enjoyable hobby.
Stuart Strickland · [address and phone number]

One mom said she looks forward to my annual handout, and has each of them in a safety deposit box. Um, that's actually counterproductive to my goals. I would rather the kids have and hold them, ask questions. Plus, I don't see any point in so carefully safeguarding a coin worth 40 cents. But if the kids really are not old enough to learn much yet (some were pre-school), yeah, there's not much point.
Ah well, I will keep up hope. When they do have questions, at least they will know whom to ask.

1 comment:

  1. A few words about why I gave out British threepence to the kiddos on 10/31/2014.