Sep 19

Talk Like a Pirate's Parrot Day

Pieces of Eight
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Pirate's Treasure
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"The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me. Oxen and wain-ropes would not bring me back again to that accursed island; and the worst dreams that ever I have are when I hear the surf booming about its coasts or start upright in bed with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: “Pieces of Eight! Pieces of Eight!”"

~ Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1882

Shiver me timbers! Today is the day to search for buried treasure (or loose change) and channel your inner pirate or inner parrot, perhaps assisted by a bottle of rum. The final lines of the classic pirate tale, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, refer to utterances of the parrot owned by the treasure-obsessed, peg-legged pirate, Long John Silver. In the story, Long John Silver's parrot, Captain Flint (named after Silver's former commander), sits on his shoulder and nibbles seeds between squawks and exclamations! Stevenson's tale fixed forever in the public consciousness the many pirate memes still recognized today. Besides jewels and gold doubloons, "pieces of eight" (Spanish silver dollars prized for their intrinsic and stable value) were most targeted during the Golden Age of Piracy between the 1650s-1730s. Supposedly, some “pieces of eight” were minted with grooves or perforations to facilitate cutting them into individual pieces! Yo ho ho and Squawk! 🏴☠️🦜

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Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer), author of many well-loved stories including his famous pirate story, Treasure Island,  is responsible for many of the motifs  we now associate with pirates in fiction -  treasure maps marked with an "X", schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders who cry out, "Pieces of eight!"

The main character, the morally ambiguous villain, Long John Silver, has a parrot trained to cry out, "Pieces of eight!"

A piece of eight, the Spanish peso de ocho, also known as the Spanish dollar, is a silver coin, minted in the Spanish Empire after 1598, and worth eight reales. 

Long tied to the lore of piracy, "pieces of eight" were manufactured in the Americas and transported in bulk back to Spain, making them a very tempting target for seagoing pirates. 

By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan reflects the colors of silver and gold coins at the bottom of the ocean.

For more on the missing treasure at the bottom of the ocean that has yet to be found, click the treasure.

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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