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Love Tokens: Engraved Coins

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I love everything weird and colorful in this world and I try to live a life that will make the world a little better once I'm gone.

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-tokens
love-tokens

Love Token on a 1841 Thaler

Love Token on a 1841 thaler

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.

love-tokens
love-tokens

"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?

love-tokens

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

love-tokens
love-tokens
love-tokens

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.

love-tokens

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

Guestbook

anonymous on September 13, 2013:

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

Gregory Moore from Louisville, KY on June 14, 2013:

Very interesting. I had never heard of these.

anonymous on June 01, 2013:

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 on April 17, 2013:

Blessed-lovely story about the evolution of love token

Jogalog on February 20, 2013:

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

anonymous on October 27, 2012:

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

Kerri Bee (author) from Upstate, NY on September 21, 2012:

@anonymous: I think it sounds pretty special.

anonymous on September 21, 2012:

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....

anonymous on March 31, 2012:

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 on February 18, 2012:

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 on February 13, 2012:

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

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on February 13, 2012:

Nicely done! Good historical information! Thanks for sharing.

arperinos on February 10, 2012:

Excellent and very informative lens ! Well done !

anonymous on January 31, 2012:

Have a peek at my collection, if you like.

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

Jules Corriere from Jonesborough TN on January 09, 2012:

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

Auntiekatkat on December 31, 2011:

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 on December 31, 2011:

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

MCB2011 on December 31, 2011:

What a fun lens! You captured love tokens well.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 31, 2011:

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

Tagsforkids on December 31, 2011:

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

adrianaheep lm on December 31, 2011:

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

hlkljgk from Western Mass on December 30, 2011:

these would make very sweet gifts

Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on December 30, 2011:

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

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on December 30, 2011:

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

collectors-corner on December 16, 2011:

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

iWriteaLot on September 26, 2011:

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 on September 26, 2011:

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

jlshernandez on September 15, 2011:

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

Cinnamonbite on June 15, 2011:

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

victorianpassage on May 06, 2011:

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

writercb1 from United States on February 22, 2011:

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

JJNW from USA on February 17, 2011:

*** 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 on February 12, 2011:

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

DecoratingEvents on February 10, 2011:

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

dustytoes on February 10, 2011:

Beautiful art on a coin!

anonymous on February 10, 2011:

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 from Savannah, Georgia on February 09, 2011:

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

resabi on February 09, 2011:

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

kimmanleyort on February 09, 2011:

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 on February 04, 2011:

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

Blackspaniel1 on February 04, 2011:

Nice topic.

Lisa from Rhode Island on February 03, 2011:

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

Kathy McGraw from California on February 03, 2011:

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

Kerri Bee (author) from Upstate, NY on January 28, 2011:

@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.

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on January 28, 2011:

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.

GeorgiaHiker on January 26, 2011:

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

Shari O'Leary from Minnesota on January 26, 2011:

What a great idea for a lens! Love it!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on January 25, 2011:

Very interesting. Blessed

lasertek lm on January 23, 2011:

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

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