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Thursday, May 5, 2011

THE SWASTIKA a good luck token

THE SWASTIKA

http://www.luckymojo.com/swastika.html

The swastika, hackenkreuz, gamma cross, gammadion, St. Brigid's cross, or fylfot cross is a symbol found around the world. It not universally drawn either clockwise or counterclockwise, and it occurs in both curved and squared forms. This postcard, copyright 1907 by E. Phillips, a U.S. card publisher, speaks for the universally high regard in which the swastika was held as a good luck token before use by the Nazis corrupted its meaning.

The text on the card back reads:

GOOD LUCK EMBLEM "The Swastika" is the oldest cross and emblem in the world. It forms a combination of four "L's" standing for Luck, Light, Love and Life. It has been found in ancient Rome, excavations in Grecian cities, on Buddhist idols, on Chinese coins dated 315 B.C., and our own Southwest Indians use it as an amulet.
It is claimed that the Mound Builders and Cliff Dwellers of Mexico, Central America consider "The Swastika" a charm to drive away evil and bring good luck, long life and prosperity to the possessor.

It should be noted that this text is not entirely accurate: The Mound Builders inhabited the Ohio River Valley and the Cliff Dwellers lived in the Southwestern United States; however, both did use the swastika, as did the Mayas of Mexico. Furthermore, although the swastika may look like four "L's" to one who uses the Roman alphabet, in Greek it forms four Gammas ("G's"), in Hebrew it can be seen as four Daleths ("D's"), and among the non-literate people of North America, it corresponded to no letters at all. Thus the ascription of Luck, Light, Love, and Life to the amulet is simply an English mnemonic, although it is prettily reinforced on this card by images of a horseshoe (luck), the rising Sun (light), twin hearts (love), and Earth (life). Finally, not mentioned in the text is the swastika's use as the specific emblem of Ganesha, the Hindu god of good luck, who is also represented as an elephant.

At left is a very nice American-made beaded item from the 1920s that bears the initials J.B.Y. and a black swastika on a white background. It is a simple strap-woven seed-bead piece of the type often made for a merit badge by Girl and Boy Scouts, or, as in this case, woven on a "while you wait" basis by American Indians for tourists at places like the Fred Harvey hotel chain in Arizona and New Mexico. It was found in an estate collection of Native American bead-work that had been put away and wrapped in 1929-dated newspapers. The twisted cotton threads terminate in a brass pin for hanging.
The use of the swastika in domestic ornament was fairly common in the 19th century. I have seen a beautiful white wedding dress, circa 1900, covered all over with embroidered swastikas. It came from the trousseau of a Polish-German immigrant woman, a "mail-order-bride" who was married in the U.S.
The swastika or hackencreuz was not a Nazi symbol originally, but was adopted by them as a "lucky" logo. (Imagine a political party of butchering madmen adopting the four-leaf clover as their symbol!) Some people believe that the swastika has been permanently co-opted or ruined by its brief appropriation by the Nazis -- who stood it up diagonally and placed it in a circle rather than running it four-square, and gave it their brand-logo colour scheme of black, white, and red, thus making THEIR swastika a national seal, unlike the non-Nazi swastikas of varied colour and form one finds all around the world.
It is a common misconception, almost an urban legend of sorts, to impute directional or positional preference or meaning to the swastika, and to claim that the Nazis "reversed the swastika" or "rotated it backwards" and therefore rendered it "evil." But this idea that directionality is important in the history of swastika usage is demonstrably untrue: counter-balancing (bilaterally symmetrical) arrays of clockwise and counterclockwise swastikas are common in both ancient and modern Indian art.
I believe that these considerations concerning the left- and right-turning swastika arose after the Nazis adopted the device -- and were part of a failed attempt to salvage at least a part of its former meaning by establishing a "good swastika versus bad swastika" dichotomy. Unfortunately, this swastika purity restoration attempt failed because ancient monuments and steles do not bear the theory out: The swastika appears in both left- and right-turned models in virtually all past cultures with no "deosil" and "widdershins" thought behind the direction, nor with "good" or "evil" concepts attached. The Nazis tipped the swastika up on end (diagonally), but it is even found that way in some old historical artifacts as well, such as this lovely example of the lucky swastika -- an embossed and airbrushed American postcard of the 1905 - 1910 era, bearing the legend "To Darling Baby," accompanied by a lavender swastika and a bunch of Lily-of-the-Valley flowers.


Some people believe that the display of any sort of swastika should be forbidden because it is offensive to Jews. From first-hand experience, i can assure you that dozens of elderly German Jews i personally know who lived through or escaped the holocaust, were and are well aware that the swastika pre-dated the Nazis and do not consider it a Nazi symbol. One thing most of them have learned -- and have taught to me -- is that RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE is a key to preventing future holocausts. Therefore they honour and respect the religious iconography of others. including the Jains and the Hindus, who revere the swastika as a symbol of a symbol of long life, good health, and good luck, and the special symbol of the Hindu elephant headed god Ganesh. My own mother, a Jew raised in Germany in the early 20th century, tells me that her family's sun-porch had an inlaid tile design of swastikas on the floor -- and her mother once told her it was "wrong" of Hitler to use the symbol as a political emblem. The swastikas were still there on the floor when she and her family fled Germany to escape.

GOOD LUCK COINS OR "POCKET PIECES"

These are primarily bronze or gold-plated bronze coins made in sizes approximating the U.S. quarter, half-dollar, and silver dollar. Similar in size and design to souvenir good luck coins and advertising good luck coins , they are distinguished by the fact that they do not bear souvenir or advertising messages, merely promises of good luck, especially in money matters. Many display the typical North America lucky icons: horseshoe, four-leaf clover, wishbone, rabbit foot, swastika, and so forth. The height of their manufacture seems to have been in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.



A1. Good Luck Coin, bronze, circa 1930s, 31 mm.

  • Obverse: Swami in turban gazes into crystal ball with reverse swastika

  • Legend: GOOD LUCK WILL ACCOMPANY THE BEARER

  • Reverse: All-Seeing Eye with swastika, heart-padlock, four-leaf clover, elephant, horseshoe, rabbit foot, wishbone

  • Legend: THE ALL SEEING EYE GUARDS YOU FROM EVIL

  • Note: The sculptural relief on the reverse of this coin may have been engraved by the same artist who engraved the obverse of coin #A3 and coin #B1.




  • A2. Good Luck Coin, bronze, circa 1930s, 31 mm.

  • Obverse: wishbone, horseshoe, four-leaf clover within circle, separated by lines at 120 degrees

  • Legend: GOOD LUCK TOKEN

  • Reverse: eagle taking off with wings open

  • Legend: TAKE ME FOR LUCK

  • Mfgr. name on Obverse: GRAMMES, ALLENTOWN, PA




  • A3. Good Luck Coin, bronze gold plated, 1933, 33 mm.

  • Obverse: horseshoe surrounding swastika and 4-leaf clover, flanked on either side by wishbone and rabbit foot

  • Legend: GOOD LUCK COIN/1889-1933

  • Reverse: gold seal with large "W" Logo and serially stamped number in the center

  • Legend: GOLD SEAL [58521] AWARD

  • Note: The sculptural relief on the obverse of this coin may have been engraved by the same artist who engraved the reverse of coin #A1 and the obverse of coin #B1. The W logo looks familiar -- but the dates 1889-1933 mean nothing to me. Any idea what this is about? My copy of this coin was drilled for use as a pendant and the gold plating is nearly worn away. I would like to buy a better example, seeing as how this is the "LUCKY W" Archive and all. If you have one for sale, contact me at cat yronwode.



  • A4. Good Luck Sex Coin, bronze, date unknown, 38 mm.

  • Obverse: No design

  • Legend: Chinese writing, unreadable to me

  • Reverse: Four couples having sex

  • Note: This looks like a typical bronze Chinese cash coin with a square central hole -- except for the images. It is not a North American coin, but copies of it have been collected in North America and elsewhere so i include it here. My friend Ron Graham, of Forestville, California, bought one in Indiana in the early 1950s. He was told it was "a Chinese Lucky Coin." He describes it as having "Chinese writing on the front and pictures of the four major positions of fucking on the back." He sold his copy of this lucky coin when he went into the Army in the 1950s, but thanks to Vladimir Beljaev of Moscow, Russia, you can view it on its own Chinese Charms page at the Chinese Coins and Charms Web Site.



  • A5. Good Luck Coin, aluminum, circa 1960s (?)

  • Obverse: horseshoe

  • Legend: GOOD LUCK

  • Reverse: four-leaf clover

  • Note: This small, dime-sized coin may have been a cereal box premium or similar giveaway.





  • (B) SOUVENIR GOOD LUCK COINS

    These are similar to regular good luck pocket piece coins and advertising good luck coins except that they promote a tourist destination. They were often given away or sold at a nominal charge. Their purpose is dual: to bring good luck and to remind the visitor of the place where they were acquired. Many display the typical North America lucky icons: horseshoe, four-leaf clover, wishbone, rabbit foot, swastika, and so forth. The height of their manufacture seems to have been in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.



    B1. Souvenir Good Luck Coin, bronze gold-plated, 1933, 31 mm.

  • Obverse: horseshoe, rabbit foot, swastika, four-leaf clover, elephant

  • Legend: GOOD LUCK/1833 - 1933/WORLD'S FAIR

  • Reverse: Globe with three streaks spiraling off the surface (official fair logo)

  • Legend: 1933/A CENTURY OF PROGRESS/CHICAGO

  • Mfgr. name on Reverse: DODSON, CHICAGO

  • Note: The sculptural relief on the obverse of this coin may have been engraved by the same artist who engraved the reverse of coin #A1 and the obverse of coin #A3. The reverse is the official logo of the 1933 Century of Progress and was used on many items of manufacture sold at the fair.


  • LUCKY MON-GOL Brand CURIOS

    In 1996, at a junk store in Fiddletown, California, i came upon two unused labels for hoodoo curios manufactured by the Lucky Mon-Gol Company of Memphis, Tennessee. The label shown here is for Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI, a combination of powdered incense containing several traditional hoodoo formulae, namely Holy Oil, Be Together Powder, and Love Me Powder. The ingredients indicate that the product was a form of scented incense powder designed to purify and then bring love to the user. The fact that the package design includes a lucky swastika dates it to the era before World War Two.

    The images shown on the label for Curio Number XI are typical African-American good luck symbols of the 1930s: a black cat, rabbit foot, four-leaf clover, horseshoe, swastika, moon, the Helping Hand, and twin hearts pierced by an arrow.
    The lucky numbers 7-22 also appear among the lucky symbols. Seven is a common lucky number, and coupled with 22 (twice 11, the Curio's number), it doubtless conveys a meaning related to the intended use of Curio Number XI. Since 7-11 is a lucky gambling combination and the black cat is considered to bring luck to gamblers, it may be that the 7-22 on the label of Curio Number X1 represented "double luck" for gamblers. The precise meaning could probably have been interpreted via a contemporary volume such as Aunt Sally's Policy Player's Dream Book, which gives lucky betting numbers for various dream images but can also be used backwards to supply images via number-code.
    "Curio" was -- and still is -- a hoodoo mail-order catalogue code-word used to designate magical and spiritual anointing oils, roots, sachet powders, herbs, conjure bags, and amulets. The term is intended as a disclaimer to forestall prosecution for mail fraud. The Lucky Mon-Gol Company was not the only hoodoo supply company of the 1930s that numbered its "curios" rather than naming them; the Hussey Distribution Company of Atlanta, Georgia, also followed this practice, with its line of "Fine Curio Products," which included "Curio #3 Highest Quality Alleged Inflammatory Confusion Brand Incense" and "Husco Curio No. 61 Alleged Money Drawing Brand Incense."
    Modern factory-based hoodoo suppliers such as E. Davis, Indio, and the Lama Temple are less likely to incorporate the word "curio" in product names, but they still remove the taint of implied fraud by inserting the words "Alleged" and "Brand" somewhere in the title to make it seem as if the name were just a coincidence and had no relation to the item's reason for existence. My own Lucky Mojo Curio Co. proudly flaunts the old-fashioned name "curio," which is in line with my policy of providing old-fashioned quality.
    Modern equivalents of the purifying and love-drawing ingredients in Lucky Mon-Gol Curio Number XI are still in commerce. For instance, one can purchase Dr Pryor's Alleged 7 Holy Spirit Hyssop Brand Bath Oil (manufactured by the Lama Temple of Chicago, Illinois) and Love Me FLoor Wash (Powerful Indian House Blessing Brand). And, of course, the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. manufactures and sells such products as Love Me, Kiss Me Now!, Come to Me, and 7-11 Holy Type spiritual supplies via an online catalogue.

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