Treasure Island (1950)
The 1950 Walt Disney / Denham Studios film "Treasure Island" mentions
several famous "pirate" coins, "pieces of eight", guineas, and doubloons.
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.
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.
Long John mentions finding doubloons.
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!
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.
supposedly worth 700,000 pounds.
a one-legged man named John Silver.
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.
A one-legged cook and waiter at a local restaurant offers to recruit a crew.
He is, of course, Long John Silver, a former pirate.
4. The Sea Cook offers to recruit crew
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":
6. Spain silver eight reales "pillar" type 1748 - Mexico Mint
Pillars and crowned worlds
Mo 1748 (Mexico City)
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
7. Starting out
Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesy, Squire Trelawney
8. George Merry and Long John Silver
Two pirates discuss business.
9. The ship at the island
A boat taking John and Jim is headed for the 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.
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.
Israel Hands, very much alive.
Israel chases Jim up into the ship's rigging.
12. Israel Hands getting ready to knife Jim
Jim pulls a pistol and shoots Israel.
On shore, the pirates acquire the map from Jim and go looking for the chest.
14. Empty chest
They find an empty chest, start digging, and George Merry finds one solitary gold coin.
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.
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:
17. Great Britain gold guinea 1750
George II facing left
GEORGIVS II DEI GRATIA (George II, by the Grace of God)
Crowned arms of Britain, Ireland, France, and Hannover
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
18. John fires at pirates
John switches sides and attacks his former comrades.
He then joins the squire's men.
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.
20. The treasure chest
A traditional treasure chest filled with coins.
A large number must have been made for the treasure chest scenes.
A British pound was around 1/4 Troy ounce of gold.
The treasure would weight around 1,800 ordinary pounds, almost a ton.
21. Jim handles coins
A small amount of the coin design appears in this scene.
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.
He orders everyone but Jim into the water, drops Jim off, and sails away.
23. John sails away
"I'm the Son of a Sea Cook".
Spanish silver "piece of eight" given to Walt Disney:
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.
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
Writers: Lawrence Edward Watkin, Robert Louis Stevenson (novel)