100946 | UNITED STATES. Donkey in Desert silver Love Token.
100946 | UNITED STATES. Donkey in Desert silver Love Token. Engraved on an 1876 Seated Liberty Dime (18mm, 2.00 g, 12h).
Donkey standing left upon a deserted landscape / 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: Extremely Fine; Host Coin: Near Very Fine. Toned. A pleasing animal representation.
Animals can be one of the more endearing forms of iconography applied to love tokens, with owls among the most popular. A donkey image such as this piece, rather charming at that, evokes the feeling of the old west—a lonely burro amid a mostly barren desert.
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.
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