"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Tuesday, 11 December 2012



 This noun is an ecclesiastical one and refers to the box or vessel in which the reserved Eucharist or Host is kept.  It is also used for the small watch-shaped container used for carrying the Eucharist to the sick.

A pyx or pyx-chest is also a box or chest at a mint, in which specimen coins are deposited and reserved for trial by weight and assay.

 The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly minted coins conform to required standards. Trials have been held from the twelfth century to the present day, normally once per calendar year; the form of the ceremony has been essentially the same since 1282 AD. They are trials in the full judicial sense, presided over by a judge with an expert jury of assayers. The "Pyx" is the boxwood chest  in which coins are placed for presentation to the jury.  It can also be spelled pix.

Trials are now held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths; formerly, they took place at the Palace of Westminster. Given modern production methods, it is unlikely that coins would not conform, but this was a problem in the past.  It was tempting for the Master of the Mint to steal precious metals and turn out coins fractionally smaller or lighter than they should have been.


  1. At my church, we have this box which is blessed and then given to those taking Holy Eucharist to the sick. I never thought that it had a name. Pyx. Thank you.
    Of course, I was not brought up Episcopalian, so even after all these years, I still struggle to remember the correct name of something...so you can't go by me!

  2. This was very intesting, and the first time I heard of the pyx and its trial.