A Mystery and Genetic Memory

My friend Esther is a curator at the Museum of Jewish heritage. Occasionally she has asked me fiber-related questions.
The other day I received this photocopy of an object in the mail from Esther. She asked me if I knew what it was.
The next image ought to help  figure out what this object is.
Each of the stitched circles holds a fifty Kopek piece.

Now, I had never seen such an object before in my life.  But I immediately knew what it was.

Esther’s letter states that this object belonged to a father of a women who brought it in to Esther to find out what this might be.  The father came to the states in 1923. He had sewn rolls of 500 ruble bills into his coat lining.
Friday night I showed the image to my daughter. She immediately replied,“ It’s to sew into the lining of your coat.”  I asked her why, and she said, “It’s to hide your money when you come to America.”
My daughter had never seen such an object either.

My cousin’s daughter was at dinner as well. Her grandmother was a relative that we didn’t speak to, so it isn’t like she grew up with shared memories. Her reply was the same as my daughter’s.
Given the rolls of 500 ruble bills in the coat lining, I assume that this packet is for incidental travel money, say money to pay the droshky driver or buy some lunch . I assume that the rolls of bills were to help set up the relative in business or other large expenses.
I think that the coins were sewn up so they would not have a tell-tale jingle. This packet might have been worn in a packet worn around the neck or in some way worn close to the body.

Have any of you seen anything similar???


  1. And coming from a completely different ethnic background, but an avid reader from my teens of stories of people fleeing persecution and war, I also knew straight away what it was.
    The special thing about this one is that the money is still there. So, it seems their journey was blessed and they didn't have to spend it all.

  2. They all so sewed diamonds into their clothes. It was too bribe people too help in the escape from Europe.

  3. It seems like some of the money was used...perhaps there was more than one satchel of money. I know that the Nazis allowed Jews to leave with only a tiny amount of cash so putting al of your assets into diamonds was a wise thing to do. Sometimes those diamonds were used for bribes to save lives, , sometimes those diamonds were used to help establish a new life, to establish a business in a new country.


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