100997 | FRANCE. Veduta with Stone Bridge and Sailboat copper Love Token.
100997 | FRANCE. Veduta with Stone Bridge and Sailboat copper Love Token. Engraved on a 1793-AA 2 Sols of Louis XVI from Metz (33mm, 19.94 g, 2h).
Veduta with church and man walking on stone bridge in foreground; two sailboats on waterway; in background, cityscape before hills / LOUIS XVI ROI DES FRANÇOIS, garlanded, draped, and armored bust of Louis left. Edge: Plain.
Cf. KM 603.2 (for host coin). Engraving: Choice Extremely Fine. Radiant and lustrous with intricate detail; Host Coin: Good. Some roughness and a few light marks.
A charming and elaborate engraving on a fairly broad host coin as the canvas, this 2 Sols from the last year of the reign of Louis XVI presents a charming cityscape divided by a waterway. A stone bridge in the foreground is being crossed by a man, while the rayed pattern in the sky gives the feeling of a rising sun.
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.