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Love Tokens: Engraved Coins

Updated on January 16, 2015
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Coins Engraved as a Tokens of Love

In the late 18th and 19th centuries, love tokens were common. Coins personalized for a sweetheart were given as an expression of love, and often as a proposal of marriage. What a wonderfully romantic gesture!

These coins, engraved with their loved one's initials, or sometimes their name, were a precious and cherished gift. Some love tokens withstood the test of time and now, years later, they serve as a testament to a love that was - a romance of old.

"...as a token of my love." --- That is such a powerfully romantic phrase!

A Look at Love Tokens

Being personalized items from a wide variety of creators, each love tokens has its own personality. Each one of these coins represents a love shared between two people. In America, the seated liberty was a common choice for making love tokens.

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Love Token on a 1841 Thaler

Love Token on a 1841 thaler
Love Token on a 1841 thaler | Source

The Tradition of Engraved Coins as Love Tokens

The History of the Love Token

In the late 18th century and through the 19th century, engraved coins were widely given as an expression of love. Often, men could not afford to buy their sweetheart a ring, so instead, they would save up to purchase the largest coin denomination they could afford, personalize it, and give to their love upon asking for their hand in marriage. One side of the coin would be sanded down and engraved with the girl's initials or sometimes their name. The coins sometimes had embellishments such as a border or or other design added as well.

The coins were carried by the woman throughout the marriage. Many times a hole was added and it was worn around the neck, or a pin back was added and it was worn near the heart.

Since the engravings were generally done by common men (not trained artists), it is amazing to see the detail and quality of some coins.

Engraved coins were also often given by sailors to girls as promises that they will come back to them after their journey, and so that the girl might have something to remember him by.

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"She smiled when I gave her the token and the message. She had the sweetest smile I ever saw, and said she would wear the coin, and hoped there would be luck enough for two about it;"

--- The Luck-Penny, 1888

(The American Magazine Vol 8, p352)

Have you seen a token of love coin?

Have you ever seen one of these tokens of love?

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Bowed Money for Love, Bent Coins for Luck

Bowed Money for Love - Bowed given as a pledge of love or friendship

Bending a coin into a cup shape (to "hold in the love") and giving it as a token of love, was a practice performed by many. It was common for men to give a bowed coin to their sweethearts with a proposal or promise of marriage.

This was also known as Broken Money or Crooked Money, which should bring to mind the old rhyme, "There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse. And they all lived together in a crooked house."

The tradition began at some point in the middle ages. If a person were sick (or even an animal), a coin was bent and placed close to their body, and an request was made to a particular saint. When the person recovered, they either kept the coin or sent it as a gift to the church or a shrine of that saint who looked kindly upon them.

Families kept these coins and surely told their children of the good fortune they had brought, and those legends brought around a belief that any coin when bent would bring good fortune.

Sources:

Notes and queries, 1869 - Page 370

Observations on the popular antiquities of Great Britain, Vol. 2, 1875 - page 94

Brand's popular antiquities of Great Britain, 1905 - page 64

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Love Tokens

Have your own piece of history - buy an antique love token.

What influcences the price of love tokens?

Antique love tokens are now a favorite of many collectors. They make a wonderful gift for a loved one, especially if you are lucky enough to find their initials.

The price of an antique love token can vary as a result of several factors.

  • The Coin

    Rarer coins or coins uncommonly used as love tokens increase its value. The denomination of the coin may influence its value in today's market.

  • The Condition

    The condition of the coin will impact its value.

  • The Design

    Love tokens with a more elaborate and ornate design are valued more highly than coins with a simple or easier designs. Borders, symbols, pictures, and difficult design features can increase the value of a love token.

  • The Story

    It is common to come across a token of love, but much less common to know the story behind that token. Love tokens that have been passed through a family with a story and perhaps a photo or other documentation of the original relationship can greatly increase the value of the coin.

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The back of this love token shows that it once had a pin back attached to it.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I have found one just recently and have been told its from victorian times 1882 and would like to try to find out about it and how much they are worth

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 3 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Very interesting. I had never heard of these.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Some lovely examples there,the bent love tokens,typically William III sixpences are a very common find for me ( metal detectorist) in uk.there must have been a lot of heartbroken chaps about.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 4 years ago

      Blessed-lovely story about the evolution of love token

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      Really interesting lens. Coins made great love tokens in the past.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Beautiful! If my wife's reading, I want one for Christmas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have one from my grandfather's coin collection that has blue glass inlayed in the shape of a compass-rose with detailed filigree around it... is that blue glass element a common thing? All i've seen are just engraving, but i'm a newbie....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the idea of personalized love tokens, never head of them before, I guess they would be replaced today by a personalized pendant.

    • stiny47 profile image

      stiny47 5 years ago

      I get many of these as a coin collector, many collectors view them as scrap and so do I, but...when I met my wife and i was penniless (ha!) i bought her a cheap tin claddagh ring, we've since got on our feet, got married and advanced our coin collection, but when we come across a love token, we put in a bag with the rest of them, in the hope that in the future when my wifes cheap tat turns up...

    • Winter52 LM profile image

      Winter52 LM 5 years ago

      I had no idea that these tokens existed... what a treasure!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Nicely done! Good historical information! Thanks for sharing.

    • arperinos profile image

      arperinos 5 years ago

      Excellent and very informative lens ! Well done !

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Have a peek at my collection, if you like.

      http://forums.collectors.com/messageview.cfm?catid...

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 5 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      Happy New Year! Congratulations on your lens being chosen as a top 100 Community Favorite for 2011!

    • Auntiekatkat profile image

      Auntiekatkat 5 years ago

      Congrats on being nominated for Community Favorite Lenses of 2011. A wonderful lens. Fortunately we both share one thing it was easier to vote than for most as mine was my "why-I-am a- vegetarian was nominated as well. A proud moment for all of us. Good luck in the voting.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      Nicely done ... these would make unique gifts. Congratulations on being one of the final 100 favorite Squidoo lenses of 2011!

    • MCB2011 profile image

      MCB2011 5 years ago

      What a fun lens! You captured love tokens well.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting. Congrats for the inclusion of this lens in the top 100.

    • Tagsforkids profile image

      Tagsforkids 5 years ago

      Interesting, and had not been aware of these. Congrats on making the top 100 lenses. Good luck!

    • adrianaheep lm profile image

      adrianaheep lm 5 years ago

      I've never heard about these before, but I'm glad I did. =]

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 5 years ago from Western Mass

      these would make very sweet gifts

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Beautifully done. Congrats on being another one top 100 Community Favorites.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I would really be interested in seeing a Love Token. Great information. Thanks and Congrats on being in the top 100 Community Favorites.

    • profile image

      collectors-corner 5 years ago

      That's so interesting! Not only are love tokens beautiful, they also hold historic interest.

    • iWriteaLot profile image

      iWriteaLot 5 years ago

      This is one of the most interesting lenses I've ever seen. I've never heard of love tokens. I'll be paying closer attention to those old coins you see in antique shops from now on. I'd love to find one of these.

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 5 years ago

      This is the first time I've ever heard of love tokens, but they are absolutely beautiful :)

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I have never heard of this till now.

    • Cinnamonbite profile image

      Cinnamonbite 5 years ago

      I..uh...have a...French prostitute token. 1800s to 1920s. That's love, huh? LOL

    • victorianpassage profile image

      victorianpassage 5 years ago

      Wow how did I not know about these!? I love them! Thank you very much for sharing this! =)

    • writercb1 profile image

      writercb1 6 years ago from United States

      awesome! Now I want one! hahaha...and I'd like to give some, too. They are beautiful!

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      *** Blessed by a SquidAngel *** for outstandingly clear and interesting information presented with fantastic images. Very nice and you have taught me something new and wonderful! Thank you!

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      Great idea and great lens. I love it. Thanks.

    • DecoratingEvents profile image

      DecoratingEvents 6 years ago

      I love to learn something new and this love token tradition is new to me. Thanks for the lesson!

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 6 years ago

      Beautiful art on a coin!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Most amazing! I had never heard of either the love tokens or the bent coins as being good luck. Thank you so much for this beautiful and informative lens, kab! Once again, you have created a masterpiece!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Fascinating story about these coins given as tokens of love. And it makes an especially thoughtful Valentine's gift.

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      Fascinating. I love this idea -- thanks for the lens and the introduction to something I'd never heard of. Lensrolling to Welsh Lovespoons.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      These love coins are really beautiful, so individual, so you could pick out the perfect one for your lover. I think the idea of a love coin is a good one, something you can keep in your pocket and touch every once in a while to remind you of who gave it to you. I really liked the way you presented the coins so that you could click on them to see fronts and backs.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 6 years ago

      I've never thought about love coins, I definitely should have a closer look at these gems!

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 6 years ago

      Nice topic.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image

      Lisa 6 years ago from Rhode Island

      these are very cool and interesting my parents had some of the bent coins you could go to a machine and have them done my dad had them done while in the service. wonderful lens

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      I have never seen love coins, but I like the idea of them. You made me totally interested in this type of collecting.....Blessed :)

    • kerbev profile image
      Author

      kab 6 years ago from Upstate, NY

      @FanfrelucheHubs: These coins have not recently been engraved, they were engraved a hundred years ago, when the coins weren't all that old. When they were engraved, the coins value was not of a collectible nature, but just the face value of the coin.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 6 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      As a collector of various thing, I found the idea of using old coins to turn them into something else a little "weird". But the final product is quite interesting.

    • profile image

      GeorgiaHiker 6 years ago

      I "love" this lens. Love Tokens are amazing. I think I will have to find one.

    • sharioleary profile image

      Shari O'Leary 6 years ago from Minnesota

      What a great idea for a lens! Love it!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 6 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Very interesting. Blessed

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      Nice! This is something I could give to my wife come Valentine's Day. Glad to have found this lens.

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