I went and Kickstarted a project, “Fantasy Coins, LLC”, which makes coins for gaming. They’re really great, and you should go check ’em out. My use for such things is sadly lacking these days, so they’re just a conversation piece sitting around, waiting for an adventuring party to come by and earn them as a quest reward.
Many of the coins have text on them in runes and whatnot. Naturally, the desire to cryptoquip these bad boys was too much. Yes, sometimes when you get a bunch of word-obsessed nerds sitting around a table, they’re going to pull out loupes and translate some replacement ciphers. Especially if one of them know the old Norse runes by heart. (Not me.)
Unless noted, all of these are Irish proverbs which can be found on this site. The English is used on the coins, just with funky lettering.
First, the dwarven coins, which use old Norse runes.
- Gold Front (face): A fool and his money are soon parted.
- Gold Back (anvil): Nothing without effort.
- Silver Front (helmet): What is seldom is wonderful.
- Note: This is repeated in full twice, then only “what is seldom is”.
- Note: This forum post lists it as being in the original Gaelic, but it doesn’t appear to be,
- Silver Back (shield): There is no hearth like our hearth.
- Note: Perhaps meant to be “your”? But I couldn’t see a “y”.
- Copper Front (door): May the wind be always at your back.
- Copper Back (axe): May the road rise to meet you
- Note: This is a traditional Irish blessing
Next, the elven coins. (The knotwork-style art on the obverses of these are a personal favorite, by the way.) Per the Kickstarter page: “the “Elven” writing is of our own creation which was influenced by calligraphic Arabic, Thai, and Japanese Kanji; arranged in English”.
- Gold Front (pen): Things are not as they seem.
- Gold Back (owl): Health is better than wealth.
- Silver Front (sky): A good word never broke a tooth.
- Silver Back (tree): Let none put faith in the first sown fruit.
- from the Poetic Edda.
- Copper Front (bow): A good start is half the work.
- Copper Back (stag): It is best to search while the trail is new.
- Kickstarter Backer Coin Back: Fantasy Coin Kickstarter Backer
And now the stumper: the Fire element coins.
The runes seem to be the same used on the dwarven coins, but they don’t work in English. To add to the fun, the fronts and backs of all of these have the exact same text, which makes cryptoquipping pretty tough. Hmmm…..
If I’m reading the spacing right, there is at least one word which starts with the same two letters. Unless it’s “eels”, I’m guessing this might not be in English.
The kickstarter page says “The writings are taken from ancient Celtic runes and a Sanskrit flare (sic) has been added to defy translation“. I don’t think any of the symbols are from Sanskrit, so maybe the text is?
If you find the answer to this one, do let me know. And definitely check out the site: you’ll never have to use a Canadian dollar as a prop again!