Holed Silver Coins

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
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Who doesn't like coins?
They are an exciting way to collect American history with a real "value" to them.
As a digger, there's always been an extra thrill when finding a coin that has been "holed". In other words, pierced to allow the coin to be suspended.
I've found coins that were pierced by means of a nail, like this example photo of one of my earlier finds, and holed by a pocket knife, etc.
Through the years, I've heard many reasons for this and I wanted to share some of these and hopefully launch a discussion on this topic.

My grandmother told me that as little girl she remembers blacks holing coins and attaching them to their ankles to ward off evil spirits. The blacks in those days were very superstitious and some of their reasoning could have roots in their African heritage.
I've also read where people would nail coins to a beam in their house for good luck, much like you would've nailed a horseshoe over your door for good fortune.
And of course, since people's pockets could be very unreliable, coins were strung together and hung around the neck for safe-keeping while traveling to the store, etc.

Thanks for letting me share and I hope to hear other possible means that people holed their coins.
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
Native American women of several plains tribes would hole coins for use as a hair ornament.

Native American women of several plains tribes would hole coins for use as a hair ornament.
Down here in Mississippi, we've found European contact trade items that the local tribes utilized as well. They would take copper and roll them up into cones and decorate their clothing with these "tinklers"......Using holed coins for hair ornaments makes good sense. Thanks!
Is this the first holed coin you've found or have you found or seen others? This is new to me being in New England.
It's interesting that you mentioned this being a new concept to you. It's possible that holing coins was a Southern thing.
 

johan_steele

Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
South of the North 40
Down here in Mississippi, we've found European contact trade items that the local tribes utilized as well. They would take copper and roll them up into cones and decorate their clothing with these "tinklers"......Using holed coins for hair ornaments makes good sense. Thanks!

It's interesting that you mentioned this being a new concept to you. It's possible that holing coins was a Southern thing.
Both the Lakota and Cheyenne will hole coins to use in a woman’s hair as a hair tie of sorts. I’ve seen a few rather old coins used in such a manner in the Cheyenne River Reservation and at pow wows. I don’t know how far the practice goes as I’ve only noted it among the Lakota and Cheyenne.
 

bobinwmass

Corporal
Joined
Jul 14, 2019
Location
Western Massachusetts
When I shop for Civil War era coins to add to my displays or to start a small collection for a kid, I specifically look for holed coins. In coin collecting, where condition is everything, collectors do not like them because of the damage. But to us Civil War collectors, we like signs of real use. You can get some coins in very nice condition, except for the hole, to sprinkle around your collection. I've bought a lot on Ebay for around $5 each. I love the large cent with 2 holes that apparently was used as an overcoat button. Paid $3 for that.

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Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
When I shop for Civil War era coins to add to my displays or to start a small collection for a kid, I specifically look for holed coins. In coin collecting, where condition is everything, collectors do not like them because of the damage. But to us Civil War collectors, we like signs of real use. You can get some coins in very nice condition, except for the hole, to sprinkle around your collection. I've bought a lot on Ebay for around $5 each. I love the large cent with 2 holes that apparently was used as an overcoat button. Paid $3 for that.

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That's a nice collection of holed coins.
 

drjekyll76

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Location
South Jersey
i know people would drill a hole to make it as a good luck piece to hang around their necks. Also, i have seen where they sew it into jackets for body armor or just a way to carry money easier on them without getting their change purse robbed.
 

James N.

Colonel
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Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
During the Civil War era, holed coins were very popular as watch fobs on the ends of silver chains.
I had never heard of that usage before. Thanks for the comment.
The only holed coin I have is an 1857 French bronze or copper one with Louis Napoleon on one side. When I bought a genuine Swiss-made silver pocket watch and later mated it with a heavy, hallmarked silver chain I wanted a nice fob to go with it and again thought of using a coin. A friend working with me dabbled in coin collecting and located for me - pre-internet, of course - exactly the one I was looking for: an 1807 five-franc silver Napoleon, which as I remember was about $60. I didn't want to hole so expensive a piece, so I got one of those relatively cheap rings you put around U.S. silver dollars to suspend them on chains and such and had a jeweler cut it down slightly to fit. I used it as a fob for many years including and especially while reenacting and lost it - thankfully only temporarily! - on a sodden battlefield near Champion's Hill, Miss. Although I very rarely carry the watch any more, the Napoleon is still serving as its fob.
 

RobertP

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
When I was a kid my Dad introduced me to coin collecting with a small collection he had when he was a boy. It wasn’t very valuable but interesting as it had mostly 19th century US coins, including some silver dollars and some Confederate money. I still have it all. There was one holed, badly worn copper coin with the words “Colonies Francoises 1722” which IIRC he said his grandfather gave him. I learned much later that these were nine denier French coins distributed in the Canadian and Louisiana colonies. I didn’t k know the significance of the hole though until reading this thread.

Here is the coin and what a good conditioned one looks like (quarter for scale)

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tmorr

Private
Joined
Sep 4, 2020
I have dug "holed" coins (and those that weren't) in CW campsites, both north and south. I always figured the holes were to sew them into a pocket, jacket, hat, housewife, etc or otherwise string them together for safer keeping. They're cool to find, regardless of the reason.
 
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