Numismatic and History Discussions > Byzantine Coins

"True Cross" Pilgrim's Tokens

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I showed a friend who is a priest and he thinks we see three shells on this variety, shells being a symbol for pilgrims. On the type with two, which looks more like people, he said it is likely Mary and John.

I think he might be correct!

medieval symbolism differs greatly from symbolism of today. I have not heard of your friends thought shells represent Pilgrims ( I am not doubting, I just have not heard that before.) Shells were used to symbolize heaven, the pearly gates, the shells were an easy way to represent pearls.

I deal with art from the 15th and 16th century on a regular basis. One of my favorite symbols that is commonly used in that time period was the snail, normally seen with the virgin because it was a symbol of purity. Since the snail was Born from the dew. Not a symbol we would use with the Virgin now.

Interesting...and very nicely preserved.....example.

I'm not sure those actually represent shells, as if they do, it would represent a new type of True Cross token beyond the generally accepted four major types.  

In a message posted on page 1 of this thread displaying the generally accepted major types, the second type illustrated from the top (aka, "Type b") shows some vestigial ornamentation at the bottom of each figure.....not as strong as on Molinari's example, but not just a plain blob either.  And just above the plate, an example posted by Gert shows traces of this "ornamentation" also.


He says it comes from St. James, Patron of the Camino, and was later adopted for pilgrims in general.

I'll try to photo my specimens, but I am a poor photography indeed.


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