100885 | CANADA. Railroad/J–L/E–B silver Love Token.

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    100885 | CANADA. Railroad/J–L/E–B silver Love Token. Engraved circa 1902 or later on a 25 Cents of Edward VII (23mm, 5.08 g, 12h).

     

    Steam locomotive left; script "J. L." above, script "E. B." below / EDWARDVS VII DEI GRATIA REX IMPERATOR, crowned and mantled bust right. Edge: Reeded, with some soldering remaining from clasp.

     

    Cf. KM 11 (for host coin). Engraving: Extremely Fine. Pleasing deep gray toning; Host coin: Choice Very Fine. Clasp removed. Incredibly intricate detail and engraving.

     

    Ex Geoffrey Bell Toronto Coin Expo Spring Sale (30 May 2014), lot 1281.

     

    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 example from Canada dates to the beginning of the coinage of Edward VII (1902) or, given the wear observed on the monarch's side, most likely some years later. The larger size of the 25 Cent piece allowed a rather skilled engraver a broader canvas on which to present this well rendered engraving.

     

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