102015 | UNCERTAIN. "Exhibition" or "Meeting Hall" nickel Love Token.
102015 | UNCERTAIN. Dual-sided "Exhibition" or "Meeting Hall" nickel Love Token (30mm, 10.88 g, 12h).
Uncertain host, with engraving upon host coin's obverse and reverse, that is essentially a mirror image, though with slight differences: Extended hall, with longer wing on the right side, and two annexes to the left and right at the center; trees in foreground, which change positions slightly from one side to the other. Edge: Some working and marks, likely from being ground down.
Engraving: Choice Extremely Fine. Exceptionally intricate engraving.
It is difficult to know the exact origins of this host as well as what is represented on each side, but it is clearly meant to be the same edifice, possibly two different attempts at engraving it. There are subtle differences in the depictions of the windows as well as the placement of the trees, but it has somewhat of an expo or religious meeting hall feeling to the facade.
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.