Celebrated for their romantic symbolism, engraved antique love tokens coins emerged fashionable ways to express affection and/or memorialize important events during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). Cherished talismans signifying love everlasting, the personalized coins became highly coveted, tangible sentiments - emotions one could carry with them - or wear as jewelry, anywhere they went.
Dating back to the 1600s, love tokens originated in Great Britain, where citizens held a long-standing tradition of removing a coin from circulation and keeping it as a good-luck charm. They gained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) - the first monarch to openly express love and adoration for her beloved. Crowned Queen at the tender age of 18, Victoria’s affectionate courtship and marriage to Prince Albert was a decades-long love story that captured the hearts of the entire nation.
When he passed away in 1861, she very publicly mourned his death, making it fashionable for citizens of Great Britain and America to outwardly express their emotions with jewelry and trinkets. Fashionable throughout the entirety of Queen Victoria's six decade reign, stylish women across Europe and America adorned the sentimental keepsakes in abundance, often wearing several at a time as pins, pendants and bracelets.
In the United States, the love-token tradition began in the 1860s during the Civil War, when soldiers would engrave coins to carry as dog tags or to send as gifts to their sweethearts back home. Revered throughout the late 1800s, romantic suitors often gifted their beloved with an initialed coin meant to be held close to the heart and memorialized as an undying symbol of love everlasting.
Most often featuring overlapping initials, engraved atop one another in an interlocking pattern, historians believe the widest letter represented his surname and the tallest, his first. Nearly always engraved by hand with the suitor's full monogram, there was but one exception – men proposing engagement. In this case, intertwined initials included the first letter of her first name and the first letter of his last – an incredibly romantic way to ask her to change her name to his!
Each as unique as the love they honor, the centuries-old objects of affection and adoration are revered by collectors as much for their scarcity as for their symbolism. Today, the odds of finding your ‘perfect’ love token coin are estimated to be 1 out of 18,000!
Highly cherished keepsakes, they will forever remain celebrated reminders of romance, everlasting love and the awe-inspiring intrinsic connection between sweethearts coveted since the dawn of time.
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