Rummaging through my coin box for a specific coin I came across the three coins pictured. I found these coins during the past year and to the metal detecting world they are called 'Love Tokens'. All I knew about them was that in days gone by they were giving mostly by a man to his sweetheart as a token of his love he had for her.
Curiosity got the better of me and I forgot about what I was looking for and decided to delve a little deeper into the history of the Love Token. Glad I did as I learn't a lot more and would like to share it with you.
Love Tokens are a common find, there's been thousands of them found over the years by detectorists all over the country. So your chances of finding one is good, maybe you have already found one. Myself I have found three this past year and they are the one's pictured here. Its true, they were given as tokens of love but as I researched a little more there are a few other reasons for them.
For giving as a token of love they were made by rubbing away the Monarch's head and other details on the coin, usually a silver sixpence if the person was a bit wealthy, or a copper penny if the person was poor. Gold coin love tokens have been found...now that's love. After the rubbing process which must have been a bit of a chore in itself, the coin was bent on both sides, to a sort of wavy pattern and in this state was given to the sweetheart. Other lovers went a bit further and inscribed names or initials on them, or pictures of love like hearts, hearts and arrows, cupid with bow and arrow, flowers or doves. Others would rub down the coin so all detail was gone, leave it unbent and inscribe it and put a hole in the edge of it so the lover could fix a chain on and wear it around the neck.
Here are a couple of other reasons for their use at the time that I came across. A coin would be bent, normally in half and given to someone as a good luck money charm. As long as that person carried the bent/folded coin in their pocket or purse, they will always have money.
Also a Pilgrim would fold a coin before setting off on a pilgrimage and on arrival offer up the coin at a shrine.
Another reason come to light is that a coin would be folded and a prayer said over a sick, dying or dead person, as a few of these coins have been found in graves.
One theory why we find so many of these coins is that when the couple argued or split up the coin was thrown away, but I'm sure most were just lost as the person went about his daily way. That old favourite nursery rhyme we used to sing....'There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile, He found a crooked sixpence under a crooked stile'... must have some significance to bent/crooked coins.
What ever the reason they were used for, they are a tiny piece of interesting history relating back to us how our ancestors lived.