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February 2019 - As the Crow Flies

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Design By: Christian Mackey       

Dimensions 50mm Wide

Thickness4.0  3.5 mm

Finish Antique Bronze
Enameling Soft Enamel

Trackable? Yes

Has Icon Yes

February 2019 - As the Crow Flies

Design notes from Chris:  

We've all heard the phrase "straight as the crow flies", but most of us aware that typically they're doing anything but flying straight.  They're soaring above circles, riding thermals in a zig zag down a valley, exploding up from the ground in a flurry of feathers or swooping down just as quickly on some curious item at ground level.   Like most people, I'd only heard the phrase growing up and accepted it without thought or recalled it from reading Oliver Twist talking about cutting through fields as a shortcut.  So where did it actually come from?   These are the things that submerge me thinking into a whole other level of nerdom.  I literally lie awake at night wondering about this kind of obscurity.

So, as usual, it was time to do a little digging and when I found the answers, I knew this just had to be translated into coin!  Long, long, long ago at the very emergence of ocean passage aboard ships, navigation was a key element that could make or break or success or even cost your whole crew their lives.  There were some wonderfully ingenious methods employed to overcome this obstacle.  A few years ago we completed a coin revealing the incredible story of the Vegvisir (translation: That which shows the way), an Icelandic stave used in conjunction with a Sunstone to overcome cloudy conditions.  Sometimes though, not even that was enough if things went badly.  That's where the incredible abilities of the crow come in.  Crows would be netted on land and kept in cages aboard seagoing vessels.  According to naval legend, these raucous and clever birds were kept high up the mast in sturdy cages on a platform later referred to as the Crow's Nest.  When conditions were bleak, a crow would be released from the cage and that's when the magic happens.  Somehow, crows have an innate mental ability similar to a programmed GPS in accuracy that allows them to immediately head "straight as the crow flies" to the nearest body of land without exception.  

Little is known of how exactly this incredible ability works, but it has been studied extensively and continues to be examined regularly.  A crow's unerring accuracy has earned it a place throughout the world and history in myth and mystery, religion and science.  From books of magic attributing the crow as to a key spirit of the Cardinal Roads, to first century Greek poetry, Latin verse of crows holding the keys of life and death, Roman works of art including mosaics and even modern science, the incredible diverse abilities of the crow have captured imaginations for millenia.  It's well known crows are notoriously clever, ingenious and persistent, but their ability for navigation is hard to match.  It seems an innate talent possessed by these "Lords of the Northern Watchtower".  When all was lost, a crow would stretch its wings and soar straight away to show the path of delivery from despair.

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