Glendining (26 May 1971) lot 208.
Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) is the first English king on record as having touched persons suffering from the ‘king’s evil’ (scrofula) but is very unlikely to have presented a coin during the ceremony. From the sixteenth to eighteenth century, holed coins or medalets, were presented by the monarch after he had touched those suffering with scrofula to be worn as amulets around the neck to further the healing process. The ceremony is refered to in Shakepeare’s Macbeth in the following extract;
England: A room in the King’s palace.
Comes the king forth, I pray you?
Ay, sir; there are a crew of wretched souls,
That stay his cure: their malady convinces
The great assay of art; but, at his touch,
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand,
They presently amend.
I thank you, doctor.
What's the disease he means?
'Tis call'd the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king;
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,
And sundry blessings hang about his throne,
That speak him full of grace.
Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III.