BrianRxm Coin Stories 7/15
Forever Amber and King Charles II
"My tail's for sale. Half-a-crown will lay me down!"
Prev Back Next
The Coin:
Britain half crown 1663
1. Great Britain Charles II half crown 1663
Silver, 33mm, 14.30gm
Obverse: Charles II facing right, CAROLUS II DEI GRATIA
Reverse: Shields of England, Scotland, France, Ireland, MAG•BR•FRA•ET•HIB•REX 1663
The Story:
"My tail's for sale. Half-a-crown will lay me down!"
The line is from Kathleen Winsor's infamous 1944 historical novel
"Forever Amber", which was set in England during the Restoration period of
King Charles II, approximately 1660-1670.
The novel was a best seller, and was denounced as obscene in many places.
The book had episodes set during a black plague epidemic and the London fire.
I had read the book many years ago and again a few months ago.
The main character, young and beautiful Amber St. Clare, decides to
improve her lot in society by attaching herself to successively wealther men.
She finally becomes a mistress of Charles II.
On her way up, Amber has a brief career as a stage actress, and during one performance,
she wonders why people are laughing at her when she turns around.
She discovers that a rival has pinned a sign to the back of her dress which reads
"My tail's for sale. Half-a-crown will lay me down!".
A strange reason for wanting a coin but I just had to have one.
The text:
Instinctively conscious that the laughter was directed at her, Amber swung quickly about,
putting her hand to the back of her skirt.
And though she half expected to find it torn open, she felt there instead a
piece of cardboard and ripped it off, sailing it furiously across the stage.
Beneath and before and above her she saw a blur of faces, a seemingly endless vista of
opened mouths, and at the same instant the apprentices began to beat their cudgels and
stamp their feet and a roaring chant went up:
"My tail's
For sale.
Will lay me down!"
Half-crown pieces had begun to ring upon the stage and Amber felt them pelting her sharply,
hitting her from every side.
The men were climbing onto their benches, shouting at the top of their lungs;
the ladies had put on their masks but were shaking with laughter;
from top to bottom the theatre was a bedlam of noise and confusion -
though not more than forty seconds had passed since Amber's unlucky turn.
A Charles II Crown, Amber will have to work twice as hard for this:
Great Britain crown 1662
2. Great Britain Charles II crown 1662
Silver, 40mm, 29.70gm
A Charles II threepence which has nothing to do with the story:
Britain threepence 1680
3. Great Britain Charles II threepence 1680
Silver, 19mm, 2.16gm
Prev Back Next