Daily Prompt decided to take me on yet another trip down memory lane, although to be quite honest I had no idea what “assay” was. For that we have internet and all its devices. Not that the word was completely unknown to me, but my foggy memory had to be refreshed.
It has to do with the testing of a metal or ore to determine its ingredients and quality. Metallurgy was never one of my hobbies, so I decided to return to the first contact I had with metal as a kid, which was the English penny. Every money system has it cheapest pieces, and the British was the english penny. They had existed over hundreds of years, the first appearing in 785 b.c. made of silver, but I am not giving a history lesson on its backgroud. I grew up with the english penny, something like the big one on the top at the right of the picture, They were made of copper and with usage they became very grubby and sometimes turned green. On the one side there was the head of a king, or queen, according to when the penny appeared, and on the other to my time, Britannia ruling the waves. She was shown sitting on a throne with a trident in her hand and was the british icon of victory against everyone else, driving back the waves of the sea.
The pennies I remember were a dull brown colour until one day, I decided to polish one of my pennies. I must have been about 8 years old, and with a friend we had one of those metal polishing clothes that our mum would use for brightening up metal in the home. Our pennies became unrecognisable. They gleamed, King George and Edward were shining brightly, the pennies in our possession became something to treasure. Being kids, we used out pennies to buy perhaps a “penny chew” (a sweet made of sugar) which was all you could buy for a penny. Our gleaming polished pennies were something special when we spent them in a shop, although even because of the removal of the brown dirt layer, they were still only worth a penny.
My colleague even had a King george III penny originating at the beginning of the 19th century, a remnant from the olden days, that was forgotten in the modern monetary system. That was quite something, but not valuable.
Now the British monetary system has been decimalised and the penny has become a two penny, and I am not sure if the original copper is still used. We called the original pennies coppers from the material they were made of.
Even our swiss monetary system has copper coins, the lowest valued, known as a “rappen”, but not so spectacular and special as the British penny.