Value and Kitsch : Attachment to Monetary Artefacts

Telling Stories with Objects with Jayne Wallace

In thinking about attachment to monetary artefacts I was reminded of the 2 oyster cards that I own. I don’t have any particular attachments to coinage or monetary notes that I use, nor do I to the various loyalty cards and debit cards in my wallet. I’d be just as happy to be given a new version of any of these. However I do prioritise one of my oyster cards over the other, and I guess on reflection that I would ‘mind’ if I lost a particular one of them. I’m not a royalist and it’s not about patriotism, it’s a comedy value in the Wills and Kate commemorative Oyster card that gets me – it feels particularly kitsch – and it relates to a particular time – I can see the year in which it was bought and there’s something non-anonymous about it as a card. The fact that a particularly momentous (in some senses) event in British history when a ‘commoner’ married a royal, in line to the throne is made note of on an oyster card just seems particularly funny. There’s a jarring – unlike a person or event being commemorated on a stamp or a bank note, this piece of plastic seems inappropriate and too tacky a vehicle for commemoration – that’s of interest to me – there’s a weird interplay of value going on for me personally where a low value plastic card, which seems a wrong location for remembrance of a royal marriage has become my ‘go to’ card if I travel to London because there is this weird juxtaposition of value – ill matching of occasion (using the tube and commemorating a royal wedding) is something I find typically British, tongue in cheek and funny.