William III sixpence triangular charm

Photo: Sussex Archaeological Society
Issued by: William III
Denomination: Sixpence
Period: Post-Medieval
Date found: 03/08/2022
Location: Lewes, east Sussex


A William III sixpence that has been folded into a triangular shape. Coins, particularly William III sixpences, bent into an S shape are a reasonably common detecting find but this triangular form is a unique find on the PAS database and has been designated a Find of Note of County Importance.

Purpose of bending coin

There was a widespread custom of bending coins in the Medieval period an would commonly be part of the process of making an oath. A coin would be bent when a vow was made to a saint to go on a pilgrimage. The bending of the coin would take it from being money to a spiritual object with amuletic properties.

There is some debate as to the purpose of “S” shaped William III sixpences. The most popular explanation is that they were a love or betrothal token. The PAS record for this find suggests that the triangular form of this find may represent a heart and therefore a love token.

It also acknowledges that it could be a lucky pocket piece. Bent William III sixpences are usually worn smooth. This could be because coins with a lot of circulation wear were chosen, they were deliberately smoothed or perhaps they were worn smooth by being rubbed for good luck, possibly on part of the body as a charm to promote healing.