100950 | UNITED STATES. Odd Fellows/P–A–C silver Love Token.
100950 | UNITED STATES. Odd Fellows/P–A–C silver Love Token. Engraved circa 1839-1859 or later on a Seated Liberty Dime from New Orleans (18mm, 2.04 g, 12h).
Three interlocked rings; conjoined arrow above; script "P. A. C." below / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ONE / DIME within wreath. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 63.1, 63.2, and A63.2 (for host coin). Engraving & host coin: Choice Very Fine. Lightly toned.
The origin of the "three rings" symbolism and association with the Odd Fellows isn't entirely known, though possibly drew upon the triquetra symbol of the Holy Trinity. Alternatively, it may have emanated from an alchemical symbol alluring to mercury, sulfur, and salt as representations of the spirit, soul, and physical body. It could have even been three clasped hands as a representation of fidelity and trust. In any event, the association of this example with the Odd Fellows is rather certain.
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.