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I take part in arranging a medieval fair. As part of that I have the task of creating a pair of moneyboxes for use at the counter of the main place where the visitors can buy something to eat and drink.

I have searched, but I have not been able to find any images or illustrations of how something like this might have looked. My guess is that it would more often have been a pouch of some sort, but that solution cannot work here for various reasons.

So I am just going to build a couple of boxes as best I can. I would like to carve some symbols into the boxes and ideally they should represent what they purpose of the box is. Thus I am looking for any symbol the might have been used in medieval times to represent money or trade or even banking.

Alternatively I could also use the symbol for hospitality which I have found some images of here: http://www.schlenkerla.de/biergeschichte/brauerstern/html/ausschankzeichene.html

Looking at Abb 28 on that page there is a fairly nice symbol for use.

Also I would very much like some information on why a suggested symbol was used and how it came about if possible, but on the other hand I am not a historian so a short summary will do. I have boxes to build, after all :)

Any input you may have will be greatly appreciated.

  • I don't have anything to add on archaic symbols for currency, but it seems simple/obvious to simply draw a simple pile of gold coins on the side of a box - this at least would be obvious for the visitors - more obvious than a currency symbol that no-one would recognize. – user22859 Apr 12 '18 at 14:59
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In modern times three gold balls were often used by pawnbrokers to identify their shops. An old book about heraldry claimed that the three gold balls of pawnbrokers are based on the medieval signs for bankers, which were based on the coat of arms of the medieval kingdom of Italy or Lombardy where important Lombard bankers came from.

That kingdom became merged into the Holy Roman Empire before heraldry was used, and thus probably never had an official coat of arms, though that didn't stop Italian noble familes from claiming descent from the kings of the Lombards and claiming that their coats of arms were based on the royal arms of Lombardy. For example, a Palli family used a coat of arms of Gules, three Bezants, and claimed to be descended from a nephew of Desiderious, last king of the Lombards.

In heraldry a solid gold or yellow circle or roundel is called a bezant, representing a golden Byzantine coin. A white or silver roundel is called a plate and might be based on a silver coin.

I hope this might help until someone with more medieval knowledge can help you.

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