102093 | UNITED STATES. "Island Mansion" silver Love Token.
102093 | UNITED STATES. "Island Mansion" silver Love Token (24mm, 5.55 g, 12h).
1856 Philadelphia, New Orleans, or San Francisco mint Seated Liberty quarter, with engraving upon host coin's reverse: Isolated mansion, with central tower and various wings at different levels, placed upon island; stonebridge in foreground; hills in background; sailboats upon the water, birds in the sky. Edge: Reeded; loop attached at the top.
KM A64.2 (for host coin). Engraving: About Uncirculated. Host Coin: Choice Very Fine. Lightly toned. Extremely well refined engraving, with enchanting depth; the manner in which the light reflects from the windows gives the appearance of lights being on within the mansion itself.
This piece opts for a rather elegant and impressive architectural depiction set alone upon an island rather than employing any of the more commonly-encountered monograms.
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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