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The custom of placing coins under the tongue of the corpse first appears among the Ancient Greeks, where mourners sought to provide the departed with the toll for the ferry crossing of the River Styx. Coins have also been placed on the eyes to help them shut.

The modern custom of placing coins near or upon the tombstone has little to do with either of these practices. Coins are impressive medallions, ready at hand and inexpensive. When one leaves a coin at a grave, he/she leaves a sign: "One who admires this person was here."

See also stones, paper money.