Show me the money!

The last time I played Shove Ha’penny, I was in a local pub (for local people*) in Blandford Forum, back in 2002. I had to get my penny (or two pence piece in this case) the furthest on the table by shoving it with your palm.

The Ashmolean Museum, here in Oxford had a Shove Ha’penny board for their money exhibition. I had forgotten all about Shove Ha’penny and I’ve only come across it in Dorset. It wasn’t a game we used to play when frequented the pubs in Sussex.

Shove ha’penny board – Ashmolean Museum

It was the second time that I visited the Ashmolean. I’ve made an effort to stay in Oxford during my weekends – this is my home now and I need to explore. Oxford has a very rich and long history – once it was the capital of England during the Civil War, and because of this, Charles I set up the Oxford mint in New Inn Hall – now the site of St Peter’s College. The museum has two rare Oxford Crowns on show which advertises Charles’ aims of the war :

To uphold the Protestant religion, the laws of England and the freedom of Parliament.

It depicts Oxford underneath the king’s horse, with the Magdalen Tower and the spires of All Saints Church.

Oxford Crown

Unfortunately for Charles, he was found guilty of  being a”tyrant, traitor and murderer; and a public and implacable enemy to the Commonwealth of England.” He was beheaded on 30 January 1649 and England became a republic for the first and only time.

Given the recent banking crisis (yes another one – thanks Bob Diamond), I’ve had more of an interest in money than usual – mainly on how to not spend. This exhibition charts the history and use of currency throughout the ages. For something that I use everyday, I don’t know much about it – well, other than using it.

It was invented in Lydic (now Western Turkey) before 600BC, with notes being used for the first time in Europe in 1000AD.  The universal symbol of saving – the piggy bank – is in fact Indonesian where pigs were associated with wealth and plenty. On show, was a little terracotta pig from Java dating from 1500-1600.

The Money exhibition is only in a small room, next to the café downstairs, but is certainly worth a visit. The Ashmolean in general is worth visiting and losing few hours on a weekend. Besides, it’s on the way to St Giles, which I do recommend if you want to get away from busy central Oxford and its chain shops.

*League of Gentlemen.

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