100988 | CANADA. Gem inset/Bessie silver Love Token.
100988 | CANADA. Gem inset/Bessie silver Love Token. Engraved circa 1858 or later on a 10 Cents of Victoria (18mm, 1.87 g, 2h).
Four scrolls terminating in floral patterns with gem insets [two missing]; uncertain pattern or base to left; "Bessie" in script in exergue / VICTORIA DEI GRATIA REGINA / CANADA, laureate head of Victoria left. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 3 (for host coin). Engraving: Extremely Fine. Two gem insets missing; Host Coin: Fine. Deeply tone; loop attached at the top.
"Bedazzling" love tokens seemed to take off as the practice was waning in the U.S. in the 1890's, as engraving alone merely wasn't enough. In the cases of gem inset pieces, a number of colored gems—usually red, white, and blue—were added to the engraving, adding further charm and elegance, as well as a bit of vibrancy!
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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