Ahh, doubloons. I’m not sure what it is about those inexpensive shiny little coins that brings me such joy, but I can’t seem to get enough of them. Sure, I enjoy catching Mardi Gras beads as much as the next girl, but there is just something magical about doubloons. I am fascinated by the way they look as they sail through the air, tossed by kings, costumed horseback riders, and other masked krewe members. I love the soft ‘plink’ sound they make while hitting the street. I thoroughly enjoy the victorious feeling I get when catching a doubloon outright or when stomping on one to claim it as my own. I can’t wait to examine each coin, its color and design a thrilling surprise, before tucking it safely away in my pocket.
I became curious about the origin of these little treasures and did some very light research, which provided me with a nice history of my favorite throw. In 1964, the Rex Organization (Rex is King of Carnival and the last major parade to roll on Fat Tuesday for you out-of-towners) was looking for a new throw to separate itself from the growing number of krewes popping up throughout the area. A local artist and Mardi Gras enthusiast named H. Alvin Sharpe suggested aluminum coins to the captain of Rex, and just like that, the doubloon was born. An instant hit with parade-goers, doubloons became a Mardi Gras favorite, as other krewes began to design their own, decorated with their names and images, the colors varying from one krewe to the next.
I for one, wish I could thank Mr. Sharpe for his contribution because doubloons are simply the best. Don’t believe me? Reach down to pick one up from the ground and feel the sting of a shoe coming down forcefully on your fingers. We’re nice folks down here, and we’ll share our beads with our parading neighbors, but when it comes to doubloons, all bets are off–I’ll even take them from my own children.
A few years ago, I encountered a man on St. Charles wearing a vest adorned with doubloons. While I’m not a big vest aficionado, the wheels began to turn, and I decided to create my own wearable doubloon work of art…a doubloon belt! I purchased a leather-ish belt just the right width, selected only the shiniest coins, and began securing them with glue, the fumes of which will likely shorten my life by a few years. The finished product, however, was exactly as I had envisioned. Shiny, colorful, and with just enough overlap to allow the coins to move with me without obscuring too much of the design on each coin. My belt made its debut the weekend prior to Fat Tuesday in 2013, and based on the dozens of compliments I received and the barrage of questions about where I got it, I think it was a hit!
My doubelt (maybe not) will be making it’s first 2015 appearance tomorrow night, as Kyndall and I head Uptown for Babylon, Chaos, and our favorite parade, Muses. She is fully aware of her mom’s penchant for going just a little over the top with all things Mardi Gras, and if she’s embarrassed by it, she’s nice enough to keep it to herself most of the time. I’ll show restraint tomorrow and just wear the belt and a Fleurty Girl Mardi Gras t-shirt, but in the back of my mind I’ll be thinking about the 167 doubloons biding their time in a Ziploc bag in my attic, waiting patiently until I find just the right project.