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100832 | UNITED STATES. "Harmonic Patent" silver Love Token.

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    100832 | UNITED STATES. "Harmonic Patent" silver Love Token. Engraved circa 1838-1860 or later on a Seated Liberty Dime (18mm 1.98 g, 8h).


    "Harmonic / Patent" in two lines in script / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, denomination within wreath. Edge: Reeded.


    Cf. KM 63.1, 63.2 or A63.2 (for host coin). Engraving: Choice Very Fine. Lightly toned; Host coin: Choice Extremely Fine.


    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.


    It is difficult to determine what was meant by the engraver of this token when referring to a "harmonic patent," but an answer could lie with inventor and electrical engineer, Elisha Gray, who was a contemporary of Alexander Graham Bell and who applied for three different patents in early 1876 for the "electro-harmonic telegraph." Could this be an important piece in the early telephone patent wars? It is hard to say, though there can't be too many reasons why such a phrase would be used in the mid-late 19th century.


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