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The Truth about the Platinum Coin

Are y’all following the Platinum Coin argument? No? I can’t blame you. It’s pretty complicated. How about if Your Humble Blogger Explains It All?

The idea dates back to colonial times when Mayer Rothschild, acting as the agent for Alexander Hamilton, first obtained the refined platinum from Charles III of Spain, a fellow Freemason and Illuminatus. This platinum was made into a medallion (or, in Middle German, nikel) which was secreted by John Rowe in a crate of tea on board the Dartmouth (or perhaps its sister ship, the Greek Fire). There is a letter from the engraver, James Geddy, in which he refers to the design, with a wild turkey inside a five-sided pyramid on the obverse and on the reverse a pentagram enclosing a secrette codde. When the boat was seized, the Sons of Liberty (or in Latin, platinus quoinum) sunk the crates of tea to the bottom of the Boston harbor, so that the coin would not fall into British hands. Sadly, the medallion and its secret code were also lost forever.

Or so it was believed at the time.

In 1933, Leverett Saltonstall, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, discovered a diary written by his great-great-grandmother, Mary Cooke Saltonstall Harrod. In a cramped and nearly-illegible hand, Mrs. Harrod gloats over the keeping the coin out of the hands of the Reverend Moses Badger, her son-in-law and a prominent Tory. She wrote that Providence will hyde from this badgerr the plattinum quoine, which lyes at the heartte of the seacredde codde. Leverett Saltonstall connected this seacredde codde to the secrette codde of James Geddy, and then to the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts which hung over his chair in the Massachusetts State House. He attempted to secretly retrieve the medallion from the interior of the fish, inadvertently setting off a pressure-sensitive explosive (thought to have been set by Thomas Gates, who mentions a flaming cod-booby in a Civil War diary) and, sadly, permanently disfiguring his left hand in the ensuing fire. This was to scar him for life. Fortunately, when Major Charles R. Apted of the Harvard Police arrested Mayor Curley on the same day for impersonating a Puerto Rican, the destruction of the state building went nearly unnoticed. The coin itself disappeared for another seventy years.

Digression: Sometimes the platinum coin is confused with the infamous plutonium coin (or greek fire) which was smuggled out of the US by Julius and Ethel Rosenberg inside a bronze ibis, or ibix, and used by the KGB as a touchstone (or, in the vernacular, covanich platchiwoskinov) to find moles in the Party elite. In the post-Soviet era, this plutonium coin was lost for some years, until it turned up hidden inside a bale of marijuana seized from the Harvard Lampoon offices. End Digression.

The next we hear of the platinum coin is in 2002, when Suffragan Bishop Barbara Harris of the Diocese of Massachusetts deduced the hiding place via a series of clues in Francis Dahl cartoons. She devised a twofold plan of distraction and deceit to extract the coin from its hiding place underneath Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square. First, she wrote a screenplay which dealt with the discovery of a colonial-era treasure in a hidden vault under Trinity Church in New York (an old Dutch city named after the koan polatino, or greek fire). Then, working under conditions of strictest secrecy and silence, she drilled a hole fifteen hundred feet under the historic church building. Somehow, this attracted the attention of a financial systems expert from north of the river named Elizabeth Warren, who began drilling her own hole underneath Radcliffe Yard, where the light was better.

Now, the race was on. The first dig in Boston came up empty, as did the first in Cambridge. New measurements were taken, and they began again, each shifting only a few meters to the side: again, the treasure hunters dug fifteen hundred feet below the cities without finding the coin. A third hole was dug in each location, to no avail. Now, the advantage appeared to be with Professor Warren, as Barbara Bishop Harris was delayed writing a sequel to the movie—this time concerning an implausible treasure hidden inside a painted wooden fish (or, in Old Saxon, a rede herringe). Still, a fourth column dug under Radcliffe Yard failed to unearth the platinum coin. Now, people were beginning to take notice. Barbara Harris attempted to steal a march by skipping the fifth column entirely and digging a sixth. Elizabeth Warren responded by redoubling her efforts only to come to disaster when the drill was damaged only 650 feet below the surface as it hit some old metal coin or other. The sixth and final Copley well was completed while the Harvard hole languished. Barbara Harris was declared the victor, garlanded with laurels and laurelled with garlands. Professor Warren, defeated and disgraced, was forced to leave Massachusetts and serve on a Congressional Oversight Panel.

Or was that simply what she wanted us to think?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


The way I heard the story, transferring the coin from Manhattan to Boston was one of the secret codicils of the Babe Ruth trade, but it was soon lost during the Great Molasses Flood. The Big Dig was an attempt to locate it.

You have been listening to New York propaganda—there's never been any evidence of the coin more than 1,000 smoots from Hoar House.


You'll be relieved to know that the Harvard Lampoon staff never even noticed that one of their bales of marijuana had gone missing.

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