Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Silver Shilling

The Silver ShillingThe Silver Shilling

A silver shilling was minted and was ready to go out into the world. Almost as soon as it was out, it was traveling here and traveling there. It met other coins. It went here. It went there. Eventually the shilling ended up with one man in particular.

This man was the travel the world. The shilling had been inadvertently left in the man’s bag and the man did not notice until he was on his way. This shilling would just have to go with him on his journeys.

The shilling knew he was going all kinds of places because other types of coins would end up in the bag with him. The coins were from foreign lands. One day the shilling wanted desperately to look, so he crept very close to the edge of the bag and fell out. He fell into the pocket of the man. When the pants were taken to be cleaned the shilling fell out of the pocket and onto the floor. When the man left, he did not take the shilling.

The shilling ended up being taken, but it was not good in the country. People said it was false. Each of them tried to pawn it off on each other. An old woman finally ended up with it for her pay. She tried to buy things with it, but no one would take it. She decided to drill a hole through it and make it a necklace for a little girl. Maybe it was lucky. The little girl wore it for a time, but the lady took the shilling back and filled in the hole and tried to spend it.

Somehow the shilling ended up in the hand of a foreigner, the same man who had begun his journey with the shilling. He said the shilling had probably been called false and he would take the shilling back with him.

The shilling went home and knew he was not false.

“Suspicions are nothing when a man is really true.”


A shilling is a small amount of currency, no matter what country is using it. Generally a shilling is a small coin. The word comes from the word scilling, which means “division.” The entire idea of a shilling is that it’s part of something.

In my mind, I’m thinking of a shilling like a penny. Pennies aren’t worth much and no one really likes to have them around. If you ever work at a place that takes cash, you will occasionally find a Canadian penny trying to parade as an American penny. Sometimes the Canadian pennies get through because they’re very close in color and size to American pennies. If you happen to end up with a Canadian penny, you can’t really do anything with it because it’s not a valid form of currency in the US, either being worth less or more than the American penny depending upon exchange rates, usually less. I’m sure the closer you get to Canada, the more likely it is that you will find someone willing to take your Canadian penny.

Moving on from there, these days, exchanges generally don’t take coins. If you have some foreign coins, a 500 yen piece for example, good luck trying to change it out for five dollars and some change. Exchanges don’t want to take your coins. They only want your paper currency. You’re pretty much stuck with something worth over five dollars that you can’t really get rid of.


This shilling wasn’t false, but he was accused so by others. That’s like saying a girl is a slut, but she’s not. I know you’re thinking, “Well, that escalated quickly.” I used that example to prove a point.

In both instances, someone is said to be something they’re not, false and a slut. Let’s assume in neither case these accusations are true. The shilling is a true shilling and the girl is as virginal as they come, but even so someone still says the shilling is false and the girl is a slut. Now, the shilling and the girl know these things aren’t true, but does everyone else? Does the milkman know the girl isn’t a slut? No, he does not. He only knows what other people say. The shilling and the girl can continue to know their own value, but things other people say about them can make life bad for them. The shilling was passed around like it was a bad coin just because that’s what people said. We know the shilling wasn’t a bad coin. The girl can, likewise, be called a slut and considered a slut, just because people said she was. The girl can suffer from these words, just the same as the shilling suffered from the words of other people.

While things for the shilling ended up ok and its opinion of itself was not changed, that isn’t always the case, though, it’s best to be that way. You know what you are, so don’t let anyone else tell you what you are.


I don’t like American pennies, much less Canadian pennies, although, I do like that Canadian pennies have a maple leaf on them, or do they still do that?

Weigh In

Was it wrong or just ignorant of the people to accuse the shilling of being false?

If the people had known the shilling was a true shilling, were they at fault for calling it false?


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