100818 | UNITED STATES. "Augusta" silver Love Token.
100818 | UNITED STATES. "Augusta" silver Love Token. Engraved on an 1883 Seated Liberty Dime (18mm, 1.76 g, 12h).
"AUGUSTA," with ornate initial letter and remaining letters in patterned diagonal band; floral scrolls around / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Liberty seated right, head left, holding Phrygian cap on pole and resting hand upon union shield. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM A92 (for host coin). Engraving & host coin: About Uncirculated. Attractively toned, with an underlying luster.
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.
Originally used as a title for Roman empresses (the male corollary being Augustus), Augusta was a popular given name for females in the 18th and 19th centuries, likely being the cause for this expertly engraved piece. Also used as a place name, it could have been made as a nod to a city such as Augusta, Georgia—home to the famous Masters tournament of the PGA.