Love Tokens: Engraved Coins
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.
Love Token on a 1841 Thaler
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.
"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?
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.
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.
The back of this love token shows that it once had a pin back attached to it.