100999 | UNITED STATES. A–L–M–Mc silver pinback Love Token.
100999 | UNITED STATES. A–L–M–Mc silver pinback Love Token. Engraved on an 1881 Morgan Dollar (38mm, 25.29 g, 12h).
Ornate "A L M Mc" monogram elaborately interwoven / E PLURIBUS UNUM, head of Liberty left. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 110 (for host coin). Engraving: Choice Extremely Fine. Highly brilliant; Host Coin: Choice Very Fine. Some scattered marks and soldering; pin attached.
Though most commonly encountered using dimes, love tokens with hosts of increasing denomination also convey increased importance and/or status of the presenter and/or recipient. In the case of this piece—a Morgan dollar—the significance is rather grand. In addition to providing a large canvas, this dollar also features rather elaborate and ornate engraving to the complex monogram.
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.