A friend of mine was so kind as to send me a little gift several weeks ago, a kind of present I didn't even know existed! It was a bracelet of love tokens, very old, and very beautiful. The bracelet belonged to my friend's late grandmother, and with it was an old newspaper clipping, most of which I've replicated here:
Written by Susan Cherry:
There's an unusual group of collectibles that are particularly appropriate to Valentine's Day. Technically, they're mutilated coins, but collectors call them love tokens.
These are coins that have had their surfaces smoothed down and re-engraved with initials, designs and messages of affection. Once a coin has been made into a love token, it no longer has any numismatic value, but the token created in the process is a collectible in its own right.
Indeed, collectors of love tokens have formed a society whose members met each year at the American Numismatic Association's convention.
Love tokens are believed to have originated in England around the 1830s, and became popular in America about the time of the Civil War. The custom fell out of fashion in the 1920s.
While virtually all denominations of U.S. coins, including gold pieces, were made into love tokens, the Seated Liberty dime was used most frequently.
The level of artistry on the tokens ranged from simple engravings to highly intricate designs created by skilled craftsmen. There are, for example, love tokens made of gold pieces that have been decored with elaborate scroll work and colored with enamel and jewels.
The price of a love token depends on the quality and intricacy of the engraving, and the size and metal of the original coin. A love token made from a $20 gold piece, for example, would naturally be more expensie than one made from a 10-cent pice.
A guide of love tokens, complete with historical background and pricing information, is called The Standard Guide to Love Tokens by Dr. Sol Taylor.
Buy your own "modern" love tokens at Amazon!
It's a great gift idea.