Thursday, March 19, 2009

A family treasure (...memoria, no plata)

A worn Spanish coin from 1777, featuring the visage of Charles III made its way from hand of Francisco Babilonia Polanco y Lorenzo de Acevedo (son of Capitan Miguel Babilonia Polanco & Benita Lorenzo de Acevedo) to Francisco & Maria Viviana Quinones Vives' son Adolfo Babilonia Quinones. Two generations later, I receive the photograph of it from my cousin Gaspar. He remembers his grandfather with it sometime in the 1950s, on his keychain.

From a website on Spanish milled coinage at Notre Dame, I learned that the hole in the coin functioned like modern checks, and a traveler would pin or sew several of them into the lining of their jacket to be used as needed. What amazes me is how the coin made it from one hand to another linking the 18th century to the present. It is not the intrinsic worth of the coin, which is little, but the chain of connections that caused it to be saved that imbues it with value.