Practical Magic at Smith’s St. Leonard?


Excavation of the storehouse cellar unit at Smith’s St. Leonard is almost complete. This week’s surprise find was a broken French Louis XIV 5 sol coin. The silver coin was found in a posthole which extends another 3 feet beneath the floor of the cellar. Though broken in half and worn, enough markings are present to identify the coin, which had a very brief manufacture period of 1702-1704.

coinlouis sol coin

On the left is the coin discovered at the site this week and the example to the right from a private collection shows the obverse and reverse of a Louis XIV 5 sol coin like the one found in the cellar at Smith’s St. Leonard.

There is precedent for silver coins being placed in the corners of buildings, such as dairies, to ward off the magical powers of witches. These coins often show signs of being purposefully bent, and the coin found in the cellar does have crease marks. While we cannot be sure that this coin was placed for such a reason, it is an interesting find in a feature containing few diagnostic artifacts.

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