101000 | UNITED STATES. Dog silver Love Token.
101000 | UNITED STATES. Dog silver Love Token. Engraved on an 1835 Capped Bust Dime (18mm, 1.98 g, 7h).
Head of dog facing slightly left; textured pattern with enameling in background; all within ornate floral border / Capped and draped bust of Liberty left; 13 stars around. Edge: Reeded.
Cf. KM 48 (for host coin). Engraving: Extremely Fine. Lightly toned, with a subtle blue enameling; Host Coin: Very Good details. Some soldering and scratches to the central field. Charming animal design.
Animals can be one of the more endearing forms of iconography applied to love tokens, and man's best friend is certainly high on that list of desirability. Despite some roughness on the unengraved side, this piece—a rather scarce host coin in the form of the Capped Bust series—presents a cute dog with head turned slightly toward the viewer, a hint of blue enameling adding even more character.
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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