When street lights were gas and few and far between London was a mugger's paradise. So much so that it was probably one of the most common occupations. The police force was a new concept still very much on trial runs so defence against the cvil-intcntioncd was largely up to the individual. Hand guns were unwieldy and not the kind of thing a gentleman would carry with him so alternative defence tools had to be found. Necessity is the mother of invention and they say that the so-called penny or copper fist was actually invented on the spur of the movement a* one enterprising gentleman was facing a particularly threatening nasty.
He apparently had a bunch of copper coins, pennies mainly, in his pocket and had been nervously twisting them around in his handkerchief as he hurried through the dark streets. Sure enough, a mugger oozed out of the shadows and brandishing a cosh demanded the man's purse. The gentleman slipped the coins, nicely padded in his handkerchief, between his finger and waited. When the mugger was within reach he pulled his fist out of his pocket and let the thug have it full in the face, coppers and all. Thus was the copper or penny fist born - and very painful it was too.
When the coins are inserted between your fingers, clench your fist hard round the padding so that your palm is protected. The pennies or coins will cause cutting or at least severe trauma to bone, tissue and muscle. The weapon itself is in fact somewhat reminiscent of a more traditional knuckle-duster.
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