Georgian Era Coin “Love Tokens”
Two hundred years ago, love tokens offered an enduring and romantic means of expressing devotion to a cherished person, often but not always a lover. Acceptance of the token admitted a return of affection. One common practice was to personalize legitimate coins, usually by smoothing and engraving them (by hand) with a message or romantic imagery. Engravings were most commonly initials of the giver, but names and dates were also popular, and perhaps most special and scarcer were sayings and pictures. Some love tokens were embellished even further with stones, enamel, added raised metal, or cutout designs within the coin. The more time and painstaking effort employed was a clear indication of the emotion invested in the objects themselves.
The “Bender” love tokens are less commonly found, perhaps because they weren’t as popular. It is believed that a young man would prove his love by physically bending a coin in front of the lady he desired. If the token was kept, it indicated that the affection was reciprocated, but if the coin was discarded then it was a rejection. Often this was done on sixpences, but occasionally it is found on gold and copper coins. The coin was bent, both to become an amulet and to prevent it being spent.