The idea that if your hand itches you are about to receive money has been around for at least 400 years, and is still current, and is clearly allied to the metaphor of an itchy hand for avarice, which is equally old. Shakespeare provides the earliest known reference (Julius Caesar (c.1599), iv. ii). Shortly afterwards, *Melton (1620: 46) wrote, 'When the palme of the right hand itcheth, it is a shrewd sign he shall receive money'. Later references distinguish the two hands - left to receive money, right to pay it out - or give further advice:
   If your hand itches
   You're going to take riches
   Rub it on wood, Sure to come to good
   Rub it on iron, Sure to come flying
   Rub it on brass, Sure to come to pass
   Rub it on steel, Sure to come a deal
   Rub it on tin, Sure to come agin
(Folk-Lore Record 1 (1878), 240; from Suffolk)
   See also *dead man's hand, *fingernails; *fingers; *gestures; *hand of glory, *thumbs.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 186; Lean, 1903: ii. 283-4.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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