I’m a numismatist, and you may be one as well.
Although I haven’t actively accumulated coins for some years, I do have as a prize piece of my collection a Narnia coin used in the production of Prince Caspian (2008). Technically, since it isn’t a true, earthly coin, it is considered exonumia, but we coin collectors still recognize just how truly special these treasures are.
Speaking of treasures, that is precisely where my Narnian medallion comes from. The treasure chamber scene had a surfeit of the pieces, and some were sold in collectible frames. The obverse and reverse of the coin can be seen above. I’ve actually written about “my precious” piece of Narnia in the past but just this morning I woke up with the word “numismatist” on my mind, crying out for a Mere Inkling post. (More on this in a moment.)
First, those interested in the history of money may wish to skim a few of my other related columns. These include: inflationary currency such as German notgeld and Zimbabwe’s more recent $1,000,000 bills, a comparison of the women in the life of Constantine the Great and the prominent women in the life of C.S. Lewis, and the misspelling of the name of Jesus on a papal medallion.
Coins Have Given Way in My Life, to Words
As I said above, I awoke today with the word “numismatic” fluttering across my thoughts. And it was not alone. It was linked to the wordplay I recently discussed in “Creative Definitions.”
Before pondering where my mental gyrations on the word in question carried me, allow me to share two additional examples I scribbled out on my bedside tablet before rising to brush my teeth and begin the day.
Provocatours: excursions to politically explosive environs where travelers can accurately anticipate their guides will provide an explosively entertaining adventure.
Methics: the ethical perversion which allows people to justify creating pharmaceuticals with the primary function of destroying lives. [See chemistry teacher Walter White on “Breaking Bad.”]
From there my mind jumped to the pecuniary avarice of drug dealers as associated with the word numismatics – and it coined the related word,
Numethmatics: wherein the potential temporal gains associated with drug dealing outweighs the cost to society, oneself and an individual’s soul.
And in relatively rapid sequence came the following.
Flumismatics: when viral contagions disrupt the entire global economy.
Cluemismatics: either the determination of the financial motivations for murder mysteries or the funding required for law enforcement agencies who determine the criminals’ identities.
Numismantics: when economic theory is dominated by traditionally masculine concepts and values (e.g. profit and greed).
Numissmatics: economic theory which is strongly influenced by traditionally feminine values (e.g. charity and compassion).
If the last two culturally antiquated examples haven’t lost you, read on.
Gloomismatics: the prospect for economic survival in light of crushed hopes for the future due to unbridled inflation (e.g. the insanity of some economists and politicians who advocate simply “printing more money” to solve the problem).
Newmismatics: novel currencies and specie that seek to deceive citizens through the pretense that they actually possess some value.
Bluemismatics: the depressive condition elicited when one’s financial holdings inadequately counterbalance one’s debts; historically, applied to cabin boys in sailing days who only realized they would not be fiscally compensated for their services after the ship had left port.
Pneumismatics: pecuniary considerations based on spiritual rather an material considerations.
Numismetrics: the partly scientific, partly fanciful art of exchanging international currencies.
Nufistmatics: the shocking rise of unprovoked blindsided blows to strangers in urban jungles, frequently without any apparent desire to steal property.
Truemismatics: the actual value of monies before economists get involved in the matter.
Gluemismatics: the tight-fisted relationship misers have with their monetary hordes (see Ebenezer Scrooge, or dragons such as described by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien).
Nuclearmismatics: the grim cost calculation involved by world powers when weighing the “benefits” of a possible nuclear conflagration.
There were a couple of other scribblings I was unable to decipher once I was fully awake, but near the end of my meanderings, I came upon,
Zoomismatics: the financial resources required to provide a healthy environment, as close as possible to their natural habitat, for animals residing in zoological parks.
Unsurprisingly, this neologism gave rapid birth to Gnumismatics and Moomismatics . . . well, you get the idea. For the sake of my on sanity, I had to forcibly end the spontaneous exercise.
Returning to Narnia
It is fitting to end this numismatic revelry with a return to the scene for which my coin was minted. As noted earlier, it appeared in Prince Caspian. The Pevensie children have returned to Narnia, and are reawakened to their former life which had become but a dream.
Rediscovering their treasure chamber, in the now-ruins of the castle Cair Paravel (time runs differently in Narnia) is pivotal in their reawakening.
“There’s one thing,” said Lucy. “If this is Cair Paravel there ought to be a door at this end of the dais. In fact we ought to be sitting with our backs against it at this moment. You know – the door that led down to the treasure chamber.”
“I suppose there isn’t a door,” said Peter, getting up. The wall behind them was a mass of ivy.
“We can soon find out,” said Edmund . . .
They worked at the ivy with their hands and with Peter’s pocket-knife till the knife broke. After that they used Edmund’s. Soon the whole place where they had been sitting was covered with ivy; and at last they had the door cleared. “Locked, of course,” said Peter. “But the wood’s all rotten,” said Edmund. “We can pull it to bits in no time . . .
[Descending into the chamber, Peter who is bringing up the rear tells Edmund to count the steps.] “One—two—three,” said Edmund, as he went cautiously down, and so up to sixteen. “And this is the bottom,” he shouted back.
“Then it really must be Cair Paravel,” said Lucy. “There were sixteen.” Nothing more was said till all four were standing in a knot together at the foot of the stairway.
Then Edmund flashed his torch slowly round. “O—o—o—oh!!” said all the children at once. For now all knew that it was indeed the ancient treasure chamber of Cair Paravel where they had once reigned as Kings and Queens of Narnia. There was a kind of path up the middle (as it might be in a greenhouse), and along each side at intervals stood rich suits of armor, like knights guarding the treasures.
In between the suits of armor, and on each side of the path, were shelves covered with precious things – necklaces and arm rings and finger rings and golden bowls and dishes and long tusks of ivory, brooches and coronets and chains of gold, and heaps of unset stones lying piled anyhow as if they were marbles or potatoes – diamonds, rubies, carbuncles, emeralds, topazes, and amethysts. Under the shelves stood great chests of oak strengthened with iron bars and heavily padlocked.
The tale continues, as with each returning memory, the children resumed their stature and confidence as the Kings and Queens of Narnia. Their character, you see, was restored, but they remained only a year older (in Earth age) than they had been when they had previously left the wonderland.
Much to the disappointment of the dwarf Trumpkin. “Well, then – no offense,” said Trumpkin. “But, you know, the King and Trufflehunter and Doctor Cornelius were expecting – well, if you see what I mean, help. To put it in another way, I think they’d been imagining you as great warriors. As it is – we’re awfully fond of children and all that, but just at the moment, in the middle of a war – but I’m sure you understand.”
Lesser children may have filled their pockets with gold coins and diamonds and sought a return to their native land and a life of leisure. Not so these four young heroes. And, due in part to their immunity to avarice, the glory of Narnia is eventually reestablished.