John Gay's Shilling
The shilling as it would look outside of the jukebox


John Gay


English shilling (inside of a jukebox)


Coin: Causes people to sing songs that fit them in some manner.

Jukebox: Can play any song.


Lyrics sung can occasionally become satirical.


Previously: Flipping

Currently: Playing a song.

Collected by

Warehouse 13




((TBA by Elsa))


((TBA by Elsa))

Date of Collection

July 6, 1999



The jukebox the shilling is bonded to.


John Gay was an English poet and dramatist most notable for The Beggar's Opera, widely regarded as both the first ballad opera and "jukebox musical", a genre of musical that uses (typically) previously released songs that in some way tie to the characters, the plot, or other factors. The recent surge of popularity in the genre is attributed to Mamma Mia! After seeing an early version of the work, Jonathan Swift was optimistic of its commercial prospects but famously warned Gay to be cautious with his earnings: "I beg you will be thrifty and learn to value a shilling."

This shilling is one Gay was paid for the show, which he would later spend after it became an artifact. As time passed the coin travelled across the country until it crossed over to America where, in the late 1930s, it fell into the hands of a frequenter of a pub during the rise of the jukebox. The drunkard mistakenly inserted the shilling into the musical device rather than a quarter, where it mraculously and permanently bonded with its new home and modofied its effects. As the jukebox could now play any song and no longer required currency to function it quickly became a local attraction and inspired the 1939 film Jukebox first. Over time the jukebox traded locales, inspiring many more jukebox musicals in its wake with its effects, until it found and inspired Judy Craymer to write Mamma Mia! with ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All" in 1987.


Before having bonded with the jukebox, the shilling would cause whoever flips the coin to sing a song that fit them in some way, typically based on their character, personality, life/"plot", etc. After bonding with the jukebox it now affects anyone who listens to a song the device plays (it will begin normally, but the lyrics will disappear and only leave the accompaniment once someone begins to sing). Its downside, however, has not altered, and can ocassionally cause either the song or the singer to change their lyrics into something satirical.

The jukebox is also able to play any song released, and despite its limited number of title slots, will roll the slots around until the name of the song that fits the given criteria appears.


This artifact was collected by Artie Neilson in 1999 a few months after the premier of Mamma Mia! from a local bar that had boasted about a "special jukebox" that could play any song without payment.

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