100817 | NETHERLANDS. Dutch Republic. Angelic Embrace silver Love Token.

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    100817 | NETHERLANDS. Dutch Republic. Angelic Embrace silver Love Token. Engraved circa early 18th century on a Rijderschelling (6 Stuiver) from Nijmegen (28mm, 3.12 g).

     

    Elaborate scene with angel embracing woman; trees and seascape in background / Nearly completely smoothed, though some elements of the original obverse are visible near the peripheries, allowing for an attribution. Edge: Plain.

     

    Cf. KM 26 (for host coin). Engraving: Choice Very Fine. Lightly toned; Host coin: Poor (almost entirely smoothed).

     

    Being borrowed from the early 18th century practice in Great Britain, and being related to even earlier forms of engraving on European coinage, "love tokens" were an extremely popular form of sentimental art that saw their high point in the United States in the mid-to-late-19th century, whereby coinage was smoothed down on one or both sides, and some form of initials, a message, and/or imagery was engraved so that it may be presented to a loved one. The most commonly encountered 'canvas' in the United States was the dime, and usually one from the Seated Liberty series. At their height, the U.S. Mint blamed an alleged shortage of dimes—a staple of most late-19th century transactions—on this craze. Rising again in the early-mid 20th century during the depths of despair that were the world wars, this form of coin art, usually referred to in this context as "trench art," would see another revival, offering soldiers a brief chance at escapism through sentimental creativity.

     

    This early love token appears to feature a male angel rescuing a female, though it is difficult to determine if the scene is meant to be more on the religious side or the romantic side. Equally unusual is the fact that the other side has been nearly completely smoothed, possibly for use as a dual-sided engraving that the artist never got around to. The fact that the "reverse" has also been nearly fully obliterated made attribution rather difficult, though enough letters in a few areas are visible, allowing one to be certain that the host coin is, indeed, a 6 Stuiver from Nijmenen in the Dutch Republic—a type struck from 1685-1692. That would likely place this engraving in the final decade of the 17th century or, more likely, the first quarter of the 18th century.

     

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