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‘Because other people have done it’: Coin-trees and the aesthetics of imitation

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contributor authorHoulbrook, Ceri
date accessioned2017-07-14T14:40:35Z
date available2017-07-14T14:40:35Z
date issued2016-01-01
identifier citationHoulbrook , C 2016 , ' ‘Because other people have done it’: Coin-trees and the aesthetics of imitation ' Journal of Contemporary Archaeology , vol 2 , no. 2 , pp. 309-327 . DOI: 10.1558/jca.v2i2.26542en
identifier issn2051-3437
identifier otherPURE: 10638074
identifier otherPURE UUID: 47e89b49-e987-4661-9474-51dbf90fb952
identifier otherScopus: 84995591977
identifier uri
descriptionThis is the accepted manuscript version of the following article: Ceri Houlbrook, ““Because Other People Have Done It”: Coin-Trees and the Aesthetics of Imitation”, Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, Vol. 2(2): 283-308, January 2016. The full publication can be found at:
description abstractThis paper considers the centrality of imitation in relation to British coin-trees, which are exactly what their name suggests: trees which have been embedded with coins. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the custom of coin insertion was observed for folk-remedial purposes; depositors were hoping for cures to certain ailments through the process of “contagious transfer”. However, the custom has experienced a recent resurgence, with many coin-trees dating to the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. The modern-day depositors of coins do not cite folk-remedies as the purpose behind their participation; instead, the majority refer to imitation as the primary motivating factor. Simply put, people insert coins into trees because they have witnessed other people doing so. The paper considers imitation as a dissemination mechanism of the coin-tree custom; as the process which not only ensures the continuation of the custom but also influences how it is observed. The aesthetics of imitation, for example, refers to the distributions of the actual coins within the coin-trees, which often follow neat geometric patterns, testifying to the depositors’ inclination to maintain a broader design. This paper aims to demonstrate the central role of imitation in the “why” and “how” of participation in this contemporary custom, and to consider the broader archaeological implications of such a demonstration.en
language isoeng
relation ispartofJournal of Contemporary Archaeologyen
title‘Because other people have done it’: Coin-trees and the aesthetics of imitationen
contributor institutionHistoryen
contributor institutionSchool of Humanitiesen
identifier doi
description versionauthorsversionen
description statusPeer revieweden
date embargoedUntil01-01-20

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