Tuesday, October 2, 2007

exonumia = everything but coins

so i have this medallion. picked it up when i lived in bangladesh - can't remember the details of how or where. but it was probably at a touristy coin shop. which brings up exonumia: the study of everything but coins. (coins go to the numismatists, doncha know.) so, like, medallions, medals, coins modified for adornment, etc.

it's been about ten years since i picked up the medallion in question: matte silver, featuring a unicorn head and an anchor topped by a crown. the inscription reads "maritimes messageries". because i'm stupid, i've been assuming that the inscription was written in indo-era portuguese. (did the french ever invade india? i don't know these things. i think not, or at least, not for long.)

turns out the inscription is, in fact, french. how did i figure this out? by googling the damn thing. OMFG. why didn't i do that before?! <- (insert several interrobangs.) let's not go there.

les messageries maritimes: a fin-de-siecle french shipping and passenger service out of marseilles, serving french colonies around the world. paquebot = steam ship! here is an enchante quick summary of the messageries maritimes, plus a great graphic; note the unicorn and anchor in the bottom left corner of the poster. that's on my medallion!

this'll be a great story to tell my future postal co-workers during the morning mail sort.

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