When Kish and I were in Bermuda we bought a soda, paid cash, and received some Bermuda coinage as change. I took a look at the coins and was surprised to find that the bright copper Bermuda penny has the familiar likeness of Queen Elizabeth sporting a crown on one side and a hog on the other.
What’s up with that? Why would a tony island like Bermuda, with its lovely “pink sand” beaches, iconic Bermuda shorts and knee socks, ubiquitous scooters, and proud British colonial heritage, feature a pig so prominently on its legal tender?
It turns out that hogs have a long and distinguished connection with Bermuda. A sea voyager who was an early visitor to the Bermuda Triangle was shipwrecked with some live hogs in the hold. The hogs made it to shore and, in a few years, their grunting, squealing descendants had spread throughout the island. The hogs were so prolific that some who visited Bermuda came to know it as “Hogge Island.” (Changing that name undoubtedly helped spur Bermuda’s tourism industry, by the way.) Naturally, then, the first coins minted on Bermuda featured a hog on one side. The current penny is a tribute to that initial coinage.
The eagle is our natural bird, of course, and it looks noble on our currency. Canada’s coins properly feature the likes of the beaver and the maple leaf. Given its important role in Bermuda’s history, the humble hog therefore is properly honored with a prominent place on the Bermuda one-cent piece. You have to give the Queen credit for being willing to share a coin with a curly-tailed swine of the four-legged variety. The people of Bermuda also seem proud of their hog penny. Indeed, one of the most popular pubs in Hamilton is the Hog Penny Pub.