Our object of the month for February is this Love Token. Which is fitting for the time of year when we are thinking about romance and celebrating Valentine’s Day.
From the 16th Century onwards, young men have been known to give tokens to young ladies as a sign of their love. If the young lady kept the token it meant she felt the same way. If she didn’t return the feels she would discard the token.
Love tokens were usually made from a single coin, which was physically bent by the young man into an S shape. The surface of the coin was often smoothed down to remove features like the monarch’s head. Additionally, initials or love symbols such as hearts were sometimes engraved onto the token. All of which can make it very difficult to identify the exact coin from which they are made. Most love tokens are made from silver sixpences, but some made from gold and copper coins have also been found.
Our object of the month is particularly special, because it is made from three coins which have been folded together into what appears to be a heart shape. There are no other examples quite like this known, but it is reasonably assumed to be a love token. It is also officially a piece of treasure (Treasure Act, 1996).
The coins are well worn and perhaps also clipped, making it hard to date them exactly. The size of the coins and the letters ‘LIZA’ visible on the surface suggest that they are silver sixpences from the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). It is likely that the coins were being used as currency well into the 17th Century, before being fitted together in this way.
This special love token was found by a metal detectorist in North West Shropshire in 2008 and reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme for recording (see record). After being declare treasure, it was acquired by Shropshire Museum Service in 2011.
There are many other wonderful pieces of treasure on display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and across the county. To learn more, check out the Shropshire Treasure Trail.
Object of the Month is on display in the Visitors Information Centre and features on our social media feeds: