Hard work pays off for numismatic researchers. Thousands of hours of searching over a twenty year period led Carol Bastable to discover several contemporary images of women
wearing bracelets of love tokens - coins engraved with initials and other sentiments which were quite popular around the turn of the last century. With permission, here is an excerpt from the latest
in her series of articles, which was published in the October 2017 issue of Love Letter, the Love Token Society newsletter. Thanks! -Editor
Love token bracelet photographs are one of the harder items to find. Many old photos are of either portraits or groups of people. With portraits it is rare to have a hand shown near the face
unless perhaps it is holding a fan... With hands often being obscured in poses, issues in lighting or focus, sometimes clothing covering the wrists, and the jewelry being so small in these head to
toe photos, it makes it very difficult to find love token bracelet period photographs.
The following photos represent about twenty years of searching for these elusive images. The first image is of a young child wearing a matching pair of buckle style band bracelets made from
a thin sheet metal, composition unknown. The bracelets appear to be the same type that is used with the band/buckle style love token bracelets but no coins are visible. There was a period of time
when matching bangles or bands were the fashion and they lacked love tokens.
Other love token photos will support that it was popular to wear these love token bracelets with gloves. Additional research should be done on gloves in Victorian fashion with the heights of
popularity, if they were worn regularly both inside and outside of the home, and if weather/climate influenced the fashion. The other item of interest is that one woman is wearing a Kimono. There was
a period when all things Japanese greatly influenced design in the Victorian period, but that is a whole other topic worthy of a separate article.
The previous photos are all what are called “cabinet cards” or “cabinet photos”. They measure roughly 4.25” x 6.5” with thin photographic paper mounted on rigid cardboard. The name and location of
the photographic studio is generally printed on the obverse of the cards and occasionally there is additional information of the studio on the reverse and is sometimes accompanied with graphics. None
of these cards have printed reverses but one has a name and date handwritten on the reverse which dates it to 1892. There was a large surge of love tokens made this year which coincides with the
anniversary of Columbus discovering the new world and also the release of the new “Barber” design coinage. These events may have triggered more interest in having love tokens made.
Congratulations to Carol on her successful research into this topic. Interesting! How many of our own great-grandmothers wore these? Dig out the old family photos and take a
close look. -Editor
For more information about the Love Token Society, see:
To read earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
BANGLES: SELLING COINS FOR MAKING LOVE TOKENS (http://www.coinbooks.org/v20/esylum_v20n18a14.html)
HOW LOVE TOKEN ENGRAVING STYLES CHANGED (http://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v18n34a25.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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