Kirsten's Corner

Victorian Love Token Silver Bracelet


This love token bracelet contains ten United States Liberty dimes, ranging from 1875-1883, the backs of which were polished smooth and hand engraved with sentimental meaning. One side of each coin contains initials, or old-fashioned names like Nellie, some  engraved in blocky intertwined monograms, others engraved in lyrical calligraphy. Love token coins were personalized to tell the life stories of the wearer. Three of the coins on this bracelet are engraved on both sides: two feature carnations, the third a beautiful heron standing in a marsh. Birds and flowers were popular motifs for love tokens, symbolizing everything from romance, engagement, and marriage to heartbreak, grief, and mourning for lovers lost in war or at sea. The bracelet makes a soft jingling sound when worn.

Coin jewelry has been around since the late 16th century, when the British discovered the technique of pin-punching. In the following centuries, it evolved into more elaborate carvings that were often given as gifts. Marriage proposals frequently came in the form of a love token coin with the initial of the wife’s first name and husband’s last name. Love tokens also have a history of representing long distance love. During the Victorian era, a sailor might go off to sea without knowing when or if he will ever return, and the woman he left behind would wear his name on a token bracelet so that she could hold it in the palm of her hand. The same tradition was used by men being sent to British penal colonies for petty crimes, and during the Civil War when almost every woman had a husband, boyfriend, or brother who was away at war.

The circumference of the bracelet is 6 1/4 “. It weighs 28.45 grams. Each coin has a diameter of approximately 17.5 mm.  The coins are coin silver (850-900) and the bracelet tests as sterling silver.

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