Love Tokens
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"There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse. And they all lived together in a crooked house."
What's this got to do with metal detecting you might be thinking? Well the reference to the crooked sixpence is the link to metal detecting. There really were such items as crooked sixpences. They were created and kept as good luck charms along with the numerous other thought of as bringers of good fortune. An old English superstition decreed that a bent coin should always be kept in a pocket or purse to ensure that it's owner would always have a good amount of money.
There was another purpose too. In medieval times, until at least the late 16th century, it was customary for a man to bend a copper coin and give it to his sweetheart as a token of his love and intention of marriage. They were never spent and were always carried by the woman as a demonstration of her loyalty and as a constant reminder to her each time she opened her purse. There was a difference between the good luck symbols and those given as love tokens however. Those bent to bring financial luck were usually just simply bent through the centre, whereas those made for love were usually bowed or even cup shaped. The first settlers also took these customs to America and they survived into the 19th century.
In later centuries, especially the 18th and 19th centuries, coins were still used as love tokens. They were hand made; created by the young men to give to their sweethearts and in some instances were given by soldiers and sailors before they went abroad in case they were to die. These examples though were always flat. The poorer working classes usually made there love tokens from copper coins, although these were occasionally saved so a silver coin could be obtained. A wealthy man on the other hand would use a silver or even a gold coin. Love tokens vary in size from the cartwheel penny of George III, to the smaller farthings. They were simple to make, although a highly decorative piece was usually achieved. The coin was rubbed down, usually on both sides, until the monarch's head, Britannia and other details of design had been removed. The man then engraved or stamped his own pattern and wording onto the blank disc. When considered that most men who did this were low skilled and illiterate, some of the results are quite remarkable. The decorations varied from finely designed examples down to very crude ones. They included symbols of romance, such as hearts pierced with arrows. Cupid's bow and arrow, flowers, love birds and lovers' knots, with either the initials of the maker or the receiver.
In Victorian times a variety of love tokens were introduced. The waistcoat was fashionable as part of the male clothing and a watch was worn in one of the waistcoat pockets, often with coins hanging upon the watch chain. These were usually farthings, silver threepenny pieces or sometimes even sovereigns. The lower value coins sometimes had one side filed down and the name of a loved one engraved on it. All types, from all ages can be found with a metal detector and make a nice piece in a display case. I have found one so far; this being a sixpence of Elizabeth shaped as a love token. Maybe after reading this, you'll go out and find one!