100828 | UNITED STATES. Seaside with Sailboats/S–S silver Love Token.
100828 | UNITED STATES. Seaside with Sailboats/S–S silver Love Token. Engraved on an 1884 Seated Liberty Dime (18mm, 1.98 g, 12h).
Two sailboats sailing left upon seascape; tree on seaside to left; birds flying above with "S. S;" all within rectangular frame; serrated circular border 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: Near Extremely Fine. Lightly toned.
Images of seasides, coastlines, sailboats, ships, and lighthouses figure rather prominently in the applied iconography of love tokens, as many evoke thoughts of tranquility, relaxation, and quite possibly, warmer weather. In the case of this piece, the buildings and hilly coastline may point to an actual place special to the recipient of this love token.
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.