100991 | UNITED STATES. Ben Harrison/May 10th silver Love Token.
100991 | UNITED STATES. Ben Harrison/May 10th silver Love Token. Engraved on an 1892 Barber Dime (18mm, 2.10 g, 1h).
"Ben Harrison / May 10th" in two lines in script; scroll between and below; all within saw tooth border / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, head of Liberty right. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 113 (for host coin). Engraving & host coin: Extremely Fine. Lightly toned; holed at the top.
Though difficult to know exactly what is meant by this token, one must ask the question—given the date of the host coin (1892)—if the "Ben Harrison" referenced is in fact that Ben(jamin) Harrison, 23rd president of the United States from 1889-1893, and grandson of the ninth president of the United States, William Henry Harrison. This cataloger was unable to locate any event of significance pertaining to Harrison on this date, but it still raises the question as to its potential presidential importance.
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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