Saturday, 16 April 2016

Magical Items to Survive Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland (Type 8)

The Grimm Brothers’ Fairyland is full of weird and wonderful things that can catch anyone out. Here's one type of magical item you may want to keep in your fairy tale travel bag: Easy Money! The items that fall under this category are the Gold Animals, Genie’s Handkerchief and Bottomless Money Bag.

Gold Animals


In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Magic Table, the Golden Donkey, and the Club in the Sack’, a tailor’s son was rewarded a Gold Donkey for his services. He only had to put the Gold Donkey on some cloth and say “bricklebrit” and the magical creature would secrete gold pieces from its front end and back end.

Who gave the lad such a marvellous animal? A miller. I can’t help but wonder if this miller had the sense to breed a herd of Gold Donkeys first.

Let’s set our sights on a creature that’s literally worth its weight in gold: a Golden Bird. The poor broom-maker from Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Two Brothers’ was lucky enough to see one in the woods, so he threw rocks at it. The Golden Bird may have feathers made of gold, and it may lay eggs made of gold, and it may somehow find a way to live in a tree despite its weight in gold, but being dumb as a dodo, it’s easy to catch (seriously: the broom-maker finds and attacks it on three separate occasions).

If you eat a Golden Bird's liver and heart, every morning you’ll find a gold coin under your pillow (a bird that possesses this power also appears in ‘The Lettuce Donkey’). Too bad nobody thinks about hatching the Golden Bird egg first.

(Added: 14/05/2016) The most highly prized Gold Animal of all has to be the Golden Fish. A fisherman in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Golden Children’ was lucky enough to catch one in his net (but just like the Golden Bird, it probably isn’t that hard to catch if the same fisherman managed to snag it three times).

In exchange for freedom, the Golden Fish granted the fisherman a magnificent castle and a lifetime of fine dining. Nobody could know how these things had come to be, or else the fortune would vanish. Unfortunately, the fisherman had a weak resolve and his wife was stubborn and nosy. Fortunately, the Golden Fish also had a weak resolve; he supplied the fisherman with another castle and more food.

When the nosy wife made the riches disappear a second time, the fisherman caught the Golden Fish a third time. Clearly, the Golden Fish had lost the will to live by this stage – he gave the fisherman specific instructions on how to cut and eat him, allowing the fisherman and his wife more permanent gifts that included Golden Lilies, Golden Horses and Golden Children. If only the couple in 'The Fisherman and his Wife' were so lucky...

Genie’s Handkerchief

In Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Spirit in the Glass Bottle’, a student out-smarted a vengeful genie and returned him to the bottle that was his prison. In exchange for freedom, the genie gave the student a magical piece of cloth.

If you placed one end of the cloth over an injury, the wound would heal. If you rubbed the other end of the cloth against steel or iron, it would turn the metal into silver. Use the Genie’s Handkerchief wisely, and you could become a famous and wealthy “doctor”.

Bottomless Money Bag

This can be obtained from a magic dwarf who happens to take pity on you; at least this was what happened to the three army veterans in Brothers Grimm fairy tale ‘The Long Nose’. It's quite simply a small bag that never runs out of gold pieces. You’re set for life – just keep it out of reach of princesses who aren’t satisfied with their lot (as we know, there are lots of them).

Easy Money’s great until somebody stabs you in the back for it. Besides, greed rarely goes unpunished in Fairyland. See what other magical items there are in my next post!


  1. The enie's Handkerchief is probably meant to be mercury (note that the Genie's name is "Mercurius", which in the Middle Ages was used both as medicine (Ik: Bad Idea) and believed to be a vital ingredient when turning non-valuable elements to gold

    1. Thank you for sharing that info! It's really enriched the story of 'The Spirit in the Glass Bottle' for me. The theory that the cloth may be mercury sounds very plausible - I did wonder why the genie was named Mercurius, but Google didn't shed any light for me.