Gillian Outerbridge 2014-04-23 08:00:16
Shopping in Bermuda? Dig into your handful of change and chances are you will find a tiny bronze Bermuda cent — or hog penny. Thereby hangs a tail, I mean tale, or two. The answer lies deep in Bermuda history. In 1609, en route from England to the fledgling colony at Jamestown, Virginia, the storm-tossed flagship Sea Venture inadvertently made landfall in Bermuda. The shipwrecked colonists took advantage of the unplanned port of refuge and made themselves at home, delighted with the bounty of victuals to be found including herds of wild pigs. Early Governor Nat Butler, in his book, History of the Bermudas, he writes, “The wild hogs got the scent of the… tame live swine that had survived the sea voyage… and soon came along in the dark of night to see what the ship had brought. The next day there was an exciting chase to catch some of these wild hogs.” The saying may be “when pigs fly,” but in fact, in Bermuda they had been liberated ashore by Spanish ships planning that, on their return, the meat would have multiplied. These 16th-century hogs were commemorated on Bermuda’s first coins with a hog stamped on one side and a full rigged ship on the obverse. First issued in 1616 by Governor Dan Tucker, they were nicknamed “hogge money.” Authentic early hog coins are rare and valuable, but some may be viewed at the Bermuda National Museum in the Royal Naval Dockyard. If you fancy a hog memento, drop into the Hog Penny Pub in Hamilton and pick up a T-shirt. Or visit Bermuda Memories on Water Street, where you pick up your own handblown hogs — some even have wings — and take them home with you. At The Masterworks Museum of Art in Paget, you can buy a print of Winslow Homer’s 1901 painting depicting some rather gruff hogs and entitled Bermuda’s First Residents. That puts the rest of us in our place!
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