The Gift of a Heart


A friend of The Frenchman lives with us.  They worked on archeology projects together and he is an archivist and conservator.  His stories around the supper table about his latest projects are always fascinating.  He also replicates antique coins as a hobby.  Check out his website at  He recently asked the Frenchman for gift hints for my birthday and the reply was “hearts” so he did some researching.  Here’s an excerpt from the site:

The Hearts of Potosí were minted in five denominations: ½, 1, 2, 4, and 8 reales (though half-real Hearts are so rare that only a handful of pieces have been confirmed), and apparently only from the very late 1600s (the reign of Charles II) to the mid-1700s (the reign of Philip V). The outline of a corazón can vary significantly, but it is basically Valentine-style yet with a wide, tall stem and a long, tapering tail. Predictably, almost every confirmed Heart has been holed at the top of the stem. Unlike most holes in cobs, these may have been mint-produced holes.

We don’t know for sure why cobs were cut into heart shapes at the Potosí mint, but given their scarcity, their usually careful execution, and their tendency to be holed, they were most likely produced for special use as religious pendants known as “ex votos.” The prevailing theory is that they were intended to be used by church officials, as the heart was known to be a sacred symbol of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also believed that women sewed these images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ into their blouses, a custom which is still observed in remote Andean villages today.

[Note: The Catholic Sacred Heart symbol, as demonstrated in ex votos and other manifestations, is in fact a flaming heart, usually with a long, curved tail. This matches the Potosí Heart cobs precisely, their prominent stems at top apparently representing flames.]

This birthday note was affixed to the gift: “I know you really like hearts and all things turquoise-though not turquoise, it is a South American Spanish heart to remind you of those Azul waters of the Caribbean!”



The coin is two-sided and looks gorgeous when worn as a single pendant.

Kath’s quote: “Lord into your Sacred Heart I place my heart united to all my needs and desires, I present humbly my petitions, please deign to listen to my plea, embrace me with your love, respond to my soul, look at me your child who comes attracted by your love.”-Unknown


Love-that is all.


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One Comment to

“The Gift of a Heart”

  1. Avatar November 22nd, 2014 at 8:18 pm Alex McPhie Says:

    Thanks Kath! Just saw this today!

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