Officially registered tartan graphics on this site courtesy of The Scottish Tartans Authority.  Other tartans from talented tartan artists may also be featured.

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May 23

Lucky Penny Day

Copper
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Pennies
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"See a penny, pick it up, And all the day you'll have good luck." ~ Traditional

Finding a penny (with or without the bluish-green "veridgris" patina of age) and picking it up is a relatively new spin on an old superstition. Long ago, people believed that metal was a gift from the gods, given to man for protection against evil, which is partially represented in the practice of hanging horseshoes over their doorways, wearing charm bracelets, and carrying good luck coins which acted as "touch pieces," coins or medals believed to cure disease, bring good luck, or influence people's behaviour. Many touch piece coins were treasured by the recipients and sometimes remained in the possession of families for many generations, such as with the "Lee Penny" obtained by Sir Simon Lockhart from the Holy Land whilst on a crusade. This coin, an Edward I groat, still held by the family, has a triangular-shaped stone of a dark red colour set into it and can supposedly cure rabies, haemorrhage, and various animal ailments. The coin was exempted from the Church of Scotland's prohibition on charms and was lent to the citizens of Newcastle during the reign of King Charles I to protect them from the plague. The Lee Penny also provided inspiration for elements in Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman.

"See a penny, pick it up… All day long you’ll have good luck."  Today is the day to look for that lucky penny.  

Copper is found as a pure metal in nature, and was the first metal to be used, smelted, cast into a mold, and alloyed with another metal (8000 BC, 5000 BC, 4000 BC, and 3500 BC).  Copper has always been important, particularly in currency. 

Copper does not react with water but it does slowly react with atmospheric oxygen to form a layer of brown-black copper oxide which protects the underlying copper from more extensive corrosion. A green layer of verdigris (copper carbonate) can often be seen on old copper constructions and of course, on older pennies.

Finding a penny and picking it up is a relatively new spin on an old superstition. Many years ago, people believed that metal was a gift from the gods, given to man for protection against evil. That developed into the notion that metal brings good luck.  This idea is partially represented in the practice of hanging horseshoes over their doorways, wearing charm bracelets, and carrying good luck coins.

 

For the Gaels of Ireland and the people of the highlands, lucky pennies were prized talismans.  The planting and harvesting seasons were reckoned by the moon phases.  Sowing and planting were always done at the waxing moon, while the waning moon was considered good for ploughing, reaping, and cutting peat.  On the waning moon, hazel and willow were not cut for baskets, nor was wood cut for boats. But everyone once carried a 'peighinn pisich' (lucky penny) which was turned over three times in the pocket at the first sight of the new crescent to ensure a prosperous harvest.

Designed by Carol A.L. Martin, the tartan reflects the colours of the various states of copper.  For unusual uses of your spare pennies to create art, wall art, and mosaic furniture, click the pennies!