102016 | UNCERTAIN. Stag/E–T–P silver Love Token.
102016 | UNCERTAIN. Stag/E–T–P silver Love Token. Engraved on an uncertain coin, likely a Dime (18mm, 1.77 g, 12h).
Stag standing right, head left, raising foreleg slightly; various flowers and ferns around / "E–T–P" in ornate script; decoratively incised border around. Edge: Reeded.
Engraving: Extremely Fine. Lightly toned, holed at the top and bottom.
Sometimes with love tokens, as is the case here, engraving has been done on each side, making it difficult to ascertain the host coin's attribution. Given the size, a Dime is almost certain, and likely American, though there can be other origins as well. This piece shows off both pictorial artistry as well as an elegant 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.
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