101104 | UNITED STATES. Coastal chateau/sailboat enameled copper Love Token.
101104 | UNITED STATES. Coastal chateau/sailboat enameled copper Love Token. Engraved on an 1887 'Indian Head' Penny from Philadelphia (19mm, 2.61 g, 12h).
Insular edifice among a mountainous and bird-filled background; within semicircular border below, sailboat sailing; border, mountaintops, and windows gilt for highlights / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, female head left, wearing native headdress, the legends and devices enameled in light orange, the fields in blue. Edge: Plain.
Cf. KM 90a (for host coin). Engraving & host coin: Choice Extremely Fine. Great gilding and enameling.
Evoking a serene, peaceful feel through its solitary sailboat and insular chateau, this piece is unusual in that it features two separate pictorials rather than one full scene, while also employing a gilt nature on the engraved side, indicating the lights in the windows of the chateau and the reflections of the moonlight atop the mountains, as well as a colorful enameling on the 'Indian Head' side, further adding to the creativity and charm.
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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