101010 | GREAT BRITAIN. Suffragette engraved bronze Penny.
101010 | GREAT BRITAIN. Suffragette engraved bronze Penny (31mm, 9.33 g, 12h).
1887 London mint Victoria penny, with engraving upon host coin's obverse [overtop Victoria's bust]: bonnet and Victorian jacket, with "S" upon collar. Edge: Plain.
Cf. Spink 3954 (for host coin); KM 755 (same). Engraving & host coin: About Uncirculated. Warm brown surfaces, with some underlying brilliance. An interesting piece possibly pointing toward the struggle for the right to vote for women.
Paralleling the suffragette movement in the United States, British women were also fighting for the ability to vote in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, with many Edwardian (Edward VII) pennies having been counterstamped with the phrase "VOTES FOR WOMEN" in order to reinforce this message. While it is difficult to know if this Victorian issue was engraved by a supporter of the movement, presenting the queen in a bonnet and jacket (with a conspicuous "S"), or a detracting satirist, poking fun at the women’s movement, this interestingly engraved penny stands out with a motif—whatever its angle—far different than similarly engraved issues from the Papal States or France.
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.