100982 | MEXICO. "Old Church Tijuana" silver Love Token.
100982 | MEXICO. "Old Church Tijuana" silver Love Token. Engraved circa 1900 on an Alamos mint 25 Centavos (25mm, 5.97 g, 12h).
"OLD CHURCH / TIJUANA MEX" above and below perspective view of the "Old Church" at Tia Juana (Tijuana); all within coiled border / Scroll inscribed LEY over scales and crossed sword and scepter; rayed Phrygian cap above. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 406 (for host coin). Engraving: Choice Extremely Fine; Host coin: Near Very Fine. Some scattered marks and soldering at center of the 'reverse.' An interesting piece of Mexicana and local art, all on a scarce mint host coin.
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 particular piece features the "Old Church" in Tijuana, an edifice which could not be located as still extant by this cataloger, but is featured—exactly as it was engraved here—on numerous postcards dating to the early 20th century. A charming representation of a humble southwestern church.