Sunday, February 22, 2015

Love Tokens From the River Thames

The two coins shown above were both found on the banks of the River Thames in England by a guy named Steve Brooker, who's made a hobby of scouring the river's banks for odd objects. Based on the notations that have been scratched into the coins, the one at the top was apparently cast into the river on Jan. 11, 1921, but we don't know by whom; the other one was tossed in by (or perhaps for) somebody named Benjamin Claridge, but we don't know when.

These coins are among the countless tokens that have been thrown into the Thames. Many were simple "make a wish" offerings, but others — most likely including the two shown above — were love tokens, as explained in this article about Brooker and his salvaged coins:

For centuries, smoothed coins were used as love tokens, with the initials of the sender engraved or embossed upon the surface. Sometimes these were pierced, which gave recipient the option to wear it around the neck. In Steve’s collection, the tokens range from heavy silver coins with initials professionally engraved to pennies worn smooth through hours of labour and engraved in stilted painstaking letters. In many examples shown here, the amount of effort expended in working these coins, smoothing, engraving or cutting them is truly extraordinary, which speaks of the longing of the makers.

They're highly evocative artifacts. I'll include a few more of them here, but you can see the full assortment, and read more about them, here.

(Big thanks to David Brown for letting me know about this one.)

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