Thomas Carlyle refers to coiners in his essay entitled "Hudson's Statue" as he turns his attention to false reverence in the building of statues in England. The Oxford English Dictionary defines coiner as:
- One who coins money; a minter.
- A maker of counterfeit coin.
- An inventor; a deliberate or artful fabricator.
- A dissembler, false pretender.
Carlyle writes, "counterfeit kings have to shave off their whiskers, and fly like coiners, and it is a world gone mad in misery bestowing approbation wrong!" He often talks of money and its relation to falseness. The kings he refers to are the rich, British gentlemen who fund the building of statues in honor of various historical figures. Carlyle believes true reverence comes from a whole-hearted admission of reverence for the represented figure. He uses a combination of the definitions of coiners in his essay in exploring this idea.
The second definition of coiner would mean, in a Carlylian context, that the wealthy gentlemen are like those who make counterfeit currency. Ironically, these English gentlemen use completely valid money; it is their intentions that are empty of meaning. They extend only their money, with no emotion behind the action, to the sculptor, who is the true "artful fabricator." The wealthy British gentlemen fit the final definition well. Carlyle uses the word coiners to depict those members of his society who simply give money to the creation of statues, indiscriminately glorifying any public personality. They form a group likened to money counterfeiters in their irreverence, taking away from the awe-inspiring results of the art of true veneration.
Last modified October 1993