A rare token of ambition…
“My fucking coin, ginger minge.”
Essie was told stories of Faerie folk as a child to ease her mind as she awaited her father’s safe return from sea. In the book he is not a Captain of human cargo, yet I felt the implication here is that he may have been. She believes the piskies will bring her luck and good fortune. So she sacrifices all the money she has in the world as an offering. It is accepted.
Essie makes a gamble on her belief. If the belief is strong enough, I suppose you could call it an investment. I’m sure most gamblers do.
The coin that Essie first offers to the leprechaun is a gold half Guinea.
The name “Guinea” is unofficial but widely accepted. It refers to the fact that the gold for the coins initially came from Guinea via the Royal African Company.
This coin was first manufactured in 1666 and was the first ever currency to be machine-made in England. There are some subtle differences in the order of the shields under different monarchs. Essie’s coin has England and Scotland, France, Ireland, and Hanover, indicating that it must have been struck under King George I between 1714-1727.
A popular youtuber said that Essie’s coin is marked 1758, but this would present a continuity error for a story of coming to America in 1721. However, the 1758 guineas bore a different coat of arms on the reverse.
So the exact date of Essie’s coin is yet to be confirmed, but the important point is that it was machine milled, likely while Sir Isaac Newton was Warden of the Royal Mint.
Machine-manufactured coins were significantly more cost-effective. Lower production costs made gold implicitly more valuable.
Coincidentally, 1666 is also the year that Sir Isaac Newton had his apple-induced epiphany, which separated magic and science in a drastic rejection of the doctrines of the Church. He brought forth the scientific and industrial revolutions, where people could use the absolute laws of physics and mathematics to build machines that could replicate human actions.
In a way, you could think of Sir Isaac Newton as part of the origin story for Technical Boy.
Ibis begins his story in 1721. This seems to be the second time Essie arrived in America; her second chance and the time that she brought her god with her. From 1696 (the entirety of Essie’s life), Sir Isaac Newton himself was the Warden of the Royal Mint. He was responsible for the re-coinage of Great Britain, an effort to recall and replace all hammered coinage and replace with machined-milled coins. He established that the machine-made coins were so consistent in their weight and purity that a standard could be applied to them for use as currency; the gold standard.
Isaac Newton is also know for having a man convicted of counterfeiting these very coins. William Chaloner was a small-time con-artist who passed himself off as a society man and ran various scams, including coin counterfeiting for which he spent much time at Newgate prison, the same prison where Essie met Sweeney. He was eventually found guilt of high treason by Newton and sentenced to death by hanging. Chaloner also sold dildos, BTW. (That probably means nothing, but had to be included)
1666 is also know as “Annus Mirabilis” or The Year of Miracles. Mind you, the great fire of London (which also burned down Newgate prison only for it to be rebuilt 4 years later) happened the same year, so it’s a matter of perspective. Two sides of the same coin.
Meanwhile in America, Virginia’s tobacco was being used the same way. Quality certified, weighed and measured to a standard value against gold and traded in promissory notes.
Mad Sweeney’s coin though is special. It is “meant for the King of America, himself”. This refers back to Newgate prison, where Essie tells Sweeney to come to America to deliver gold to the king. The coin is the gold, but he doesn’t know yet who the king is. Essie didn’t just tell that story, she created it. Sweeney is a man without a clear purpose.
We have been told that he owes Wednesday a war, but Sweeney might just be trying to get redemption. He fled a battle; his people were defeated and he was branded a coward. This lead to the fall of his stature, propagated by the church who replaced the old Irish gods with their own. A war of old and new gods.
Devotion to the old Irish gods was labelled Paganism and superstition. Pope Gregory, in 595 A.D. sent Benedictine monks to convert people to the ways of the church. Where required, the Pagan festivals were transformed by overlaying meanings and rituals of the church. It left the basic principles of the celebrations the same to placate the deeply-superstitious peasants, but the meanings were changed. It was a pragmatic approach to conversion.
One popular example of this is Easter, which I anticipate will feature heavily in the season 1 finale.