Coins and tokens from the 18th and early 19th centuries were frequently repurposed to communicate private and public messages – from ad hoc scratchings and punch marks to full-scale re-engraving of surfaces. They are often enigmatic objects, and this book offers a means of decoding them and reveals their value as a distinctive source of historical evidence.
Drawing on a major collection of defaced coins and tokens, this publication brings together the full range of expertise required to understand the practice. It focuses on a significant period in British history when the modification of coins expressed political commentary, commercial activity, familial and emotional commitment, personal identity, and life history.
Tokens, published in January 2023 by Paul Holberton Publishing, examines the coins and tokens themselves and looks at who modified them, where, why, and how. Tim Hitchcock, for example, discusses the new prison culture that emerged following the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776, evidenced by a growing number of convict tokens made in Newgate Prison in London. Hamish Maxwell Stewart examines love tokens illustrated with the ‘Sailor’s Farewell’ within the context of the market for sailor’s gifts and tattoos to ward against the dangers of oceanic travel. Steve Poole looks at tokens as souvenirs of public hangings, not only in terms of the influence they exerted on contemporary public opinion but as exemplars of the wider material culture of public punishment. And Sally Holloway examines the design and iconography of love tokens exchanged as romantic gifts.
As well as 18 essays, the book contains a full catalogue of 315 modified coins and a series of Collection Highlights providing additional visual and historical information.
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Tokens of Love, Loss and Disrespect 1700-1850
ISBN: 978 1 911300 94 6
Paperback, 220 x 188 mm
360 pages, approx. 900 illustrations
Retail £45 / €50 / $55