A small, sixpence medallet with the figure of Cupid handing out roses, this issues’s mystery numismatic item is a wedding souvenir with an intriguing background, as our regular examination of a mysterious coin reveals
The legend on our latest coin is ‘FUNDIT AMOR LILLA MIXTA ROSIS’ and it is dated 1625; on the other side we see the happy couple with the legend ‘CH MAG ET HEN MAR BRITT REX ET REG’. The portrait shows Charles I and Henrietta Maria, his French princess. Despite the romantic sentiments of the coin, this was not a marriage made in heaven but in the palaces of London and Paris for political reasons. Charles married the blushing bride first of all by proxy in Paris and then in person when she arrived in England. Sadly we know Charles’ reign ended in war and his execution, but their marriage developed into a true but tragic romance.
The coin is a small item but has a pleasant design and is relatively rare; our example is in good condition. So why design such a nice piece but make it so small?
The answer is that medallets were literally thrown to the guests at royal events. Nowadays if you want a commemorative medal you pay for it and it comes in the post. In the 17th century there are accounts of commemorative medals being handed out to the crowds. Of course ‘the crowds’ would be invited guests but some lucky members of the public might have picked some up. The medal is small so the guests do not get injured by flying coins!
A letter written about the occasion reads: ‘I have one of the pieces flung about at the marriage, on one side is Cupid… No jollity at the marriage, nor any of the French, save the King himself and the prince in gay clothes’ …perhaps the reception was better.