BrianRxm Coins in Movies 108/118
Treasure Island (1950)
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The 1950 Walt Disney / Denham Studios film "Treasure Island" mentions
several famous "pirate" coins, "pieces of eight", guineas, and doubloons.
 
The film is based on the 1883 novel of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson and stars
Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins and Robert Newton as pirate Long John Silver.
The film is set in 1765, first in England, then at sea, and later on the island.
 
The Disney company made the film in England using a British film company, Dehnam Studios.
Britain was in bad financial shape after World War II and had passed a law prohibiting the export of
British money. The Disney company had millions of pounds in British banks, and used some of this
money to finance the film.
 
Only Long John Silver's parrot mentions "pieces of eight", a guinea is found by a pirate, and
Long John mentions finding doubloons.
 
Prop coins are used in the film, a large number must have been made for the treasure chest scenes.
Treasure Island
1. Title
 
If buccaneers and buried gold
And all the old romance retold
Exactly in the ancient way
Can please, as me they pleased of old
The wiser youngsters of today...
So be it!

 
Robert Louis Stevenson
 
Treasure Island
2. Jim acquires treasure map
 
Jim Hawkins is a boy who works in a pub and hotel.
William Bones, an old pirate, is living in the hotel.
 
Bones served as a crewman for the pirate Captain Flint and has a map to Flint's treasure,
supposedly worth 700,000 pounds.
 
He has been threatened by other members of his crew and is afraid of one in particular,
a one-legged man named John Silver.
 
Treasure Island
3. The map
 
The map is marked:
 
Treasure Island Aug 1 1750 J.F. and Given by above J.F. to
Mr W. Bones Maste of ye Walrus Savannah this twenty July 1754 W B
 
Bones is dying and gives the map to Jim.
Jim takes the map to two gentlemen, Squire Trelawney and Doctor Livesy.
 
The Squire outfits a ship to locate the treasure.
A one-legged cook and waiter at a local restaurant offers to recruit a crew.
 
The cook was a former sailor and a "sea cook".
He is, of course, Long John Silver, a former pirate.
 
Treasure Island
4. The Sea Cook offers to recruit crew
 
Treasure Island
5. John's Parrot
 
John has a green parrot who keeps saying "pieces of eight, pieces of eight".
"Pieces of eight" are Spanish silver dollar sized coins minted from the 1500's to the 1900's.
 
A "piece of eight":
 
Mexico reales 8 1748
6. Spain silver eight reales "pillar" type 1748 - Mexico Mint
 
Obverse:
Pillars and crowned worlds
VTRAQUE VNUM
Mo 1748 (Mexico City)
 
Reverse:
Crowned shield of Spain
FERDND VI D G HISPAN ET IND REX
MF 8 (Assayer initials, eight reales)
 
For more information on these items, please visit: Pirate Coins
 
Treasure Island
7. Starting out
 
Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesy, Squire Trelawney
 
Treasure Island
8. George Merry and Long John Silver
 
Two pirates discuss business.
 
Treasure Island
9. The ship at the island
 
A boat taking John and Jim is headed for the island.
 
Treasure Island
10. John takes Jim hostage
 
The pirates intend to use Jim as a hostage during the treasure hunt.
The map is passed around and ends up with John.
 
Treasure Island
11. Pirate meeting
 
The pirates hold a meeting on the ship.
They have been drinking and quarreling.
Later most of the pirates head for the island leaving two to watch the ship.
 
Jim escapes, goes back to the ship, and finds one dead pirate and another,
Israel Hands, very much alive.
Israel chases Jim up into the ship's rigging.
 
Treasure Island
12. Israel Hands getting ready to knife Jim
 
Jim pulls a pistol and shoots Israel.
 
Treasure Island
13. Pirates
 
On shore, the pirates acquire the map from Jim and go looking for the chest.
 
Treasure Island
14. Empty chest
 
They find an empty chest, start digging, and George Merry finds one solitary gold coin.
 
Treasure Island
15. George Merry picks up coin
 
The prop coin shows a left facing head and appears to be about the size of a US quarter dollar.
 
Treasure Island
16. George Merry holds a guinea
 
George is angry that all they have found is a British guinea.
A guinea was a gold coin worth a little over a British pound.
It weighed about 1/4 oz.
The prop coin has a left-facing head and appears to be a copy of a King George II coin.
George II was king from 1727 to 1760.
Since the treasure map is dated 1750, it would have to be one made before then.
 
A British gold guinea:
 
Britain guinea 1750
17. Great Britain gold guinea 1750
 
Obverse:
George II facing left
GEORGIVS II DEI GRATIA (George II, by the Grace of God)
 
Reverse:
Crowned arms of Britain, Ireland, France, and Hannover
1750
M.B.F.ET.H.REX.F.D.B.ET.L.D.S.R.I.A.T.ET.E (King of Britain, France and Ireland...)
 
25.0mm x 24.5mm, 8.24gm
 
Treasure Island
18. John fires at pirates
 
John switches sides and attacks his former comrades.
He then joins the squire's men.
 
Treasure Island
19. Ben shows up
 
Ben Gunn, who was marooned on the island several years ago, appears and leads the
squire's men to the treasure.
 
Treasure Island
20. The treasure chest
 
A traditional treasure chest filled with coins.
A large number must have been made for the treasure chest scenes.
 
The treasure is now supposed to be 100,000 British pounds, if it was all gold coins,
A British pound was around 1/4 Troy ounce of gold.
The treasure would weight around 1,800 ordinary pounds, almost a ton.
 
Treasure Island
21. Jim handles coins
 
A small amount of the coin design appears in this scene.
 
Treasure Island
22. John takes over boat
 
The treasure is loaded onto boats, along with the chest.
The chest must have been partially emptied or it would sink the small boat.
 
John pulls a pistol and hijacks the boat he is riding in.
He orders everyone but Jim into the water, drops Jim off, and sails away.
 
Treasure Island
23. John sails away
 
"I'm the Son of a Sea Cook".
Spanish silver "piece of eight" given to Walt Disney:
 
Disney Museum reales 8 1685
24. Spanish silver cob eight reales "piece of eight" coin dated 1685
 
Some of the film's British crew members gave this coin to Walt Disney as a memento of the film.
It is now on display at the Disney Family Museum at the Presidio of San Francisco, California.
It was minted at the Potosí Mint in Bolivia in 1685, the mint assayer initials are VR.
Notes:
 
Cast:
Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins
Robert Newton as Long John Silver
Basil Sydney as Captain Smollett
Walter Fitzgerald as Squire Trelawney
Denis O'Dea as Dr. Livesy
 
Director: Byron Haskin
Writers: Lawrence Edward Watkin, Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)
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