20 February 2011

Love tokens retrieved from the mud of the Thames

From Spitalfields Life, a most interesting account of the retrieval of "love tokens" by mudlarker Steve Brooker ("Mud God"):
From the end of the eighteenth century and until the early twentieth century, smoothed coins were used as love tokens, with the initials of the sender engraved or embossed upon the surface. Sometimes these were pierced, which gave recipient the option to wear it around the neck. In Steve’s collection, the tokens range from heavy silver coins with initials professionally engraved to pennies worn smooth through hours of labour and engraved in stilted painstaking letters. In many examples shown here, the amount of effort expended in working these coins, smoothing, engraving or cutting them is truly extraordinary, which speaks of the longing of the makers.
Pictured above: "The intials M and W intertwined upon a Georgian silver coin, a pierced coin set with semi-precious stones, and cut coins from the early twentieth century."  Another dozen photos at the link.

For other, non-coin-related, retrievals from the mud, see this interesting link.

Via A London Salmagundi.


  1. Totally stealing this idea for my jewellery inspiration file.

  2. "retrieved from the mud of the Thames" - so the tokens were either thrown away (unrequited love, how sad) or subterranean tributaries are moving entombed love tokens and their bearers into the Thames (so much for the intersection of undying love and cheap burial plots).

  3. I think most of those tributaries are covered in brickwork (at least the ones in Neverwhere were...) and don't pose an erosive risk to nearby burials.

  4. Some love tokens may have been thrown away but I think of how many earrings I've lost in my lifetime . . . And many, many buttons have been retrieved by mud larks from the Thames. I would assume that most of these love tokens were simply lost.


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