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James Callow Folklore Archive

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COINS AT THE STEP OF THE MAST

THE CUSTOM OF PLACING A COIN OR COINS AT THE HEEL OF THE MASTS
SEEMS TO HAVE A DOUBLE PURPOSE. IN ANTIQUITY IT WAS TO PAY THE
FARES OF THE CREW ACROSS THE RIVER STYX IF THE SHIP SHOULD BE LOST
AT SEA; MORE LATTERLY IT WAS DONE TO ASSURE GOOD FORTUNE. THE
COINS MUST BE PLACED FACE UP, FOR TO HAVE THEM FACE DOWN WOULD BE
TO INVITE DISASTER. EVEN TO THIS DAY THE OWNER OF A SMALL CRAFT
WILL SECRETE A COIN ABOARD, THE LOCATION, VALUE, AND DATE OF WHICH
ARE KNOWN TO HIM ALONE--THE KNOWLEDGE ENABLING HIM TO PROVE HIS
OWNERSHIP SHOULD IT EVER BE QUESTIONED.

Submitter comment: CAPTAIN LUMAS SAID THAT HE LEARNED OF THIS TRICK THE FIRST TIME
HE EVER OWNED A BOAT, WHICH WAS ABOUT FORTY YEARS AGO.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; MACKINAW ISLAND

James Callow Keyword(s): POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Custom
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 09-00-1963

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