Clara Swallow Love Token
Feminine form of the Latin name Clarus meaning "clear, bright, famous", Clara has been popular in its various forms since the Middle Ages. Over the course of the 10th century, Clara saw a rise in popularity in England, managing to stay in the top 20 names of England and Wales from 1860 to 1890. As an aside, the Medieval variant Clare was popularized by the 13th century Saint Clare of Assisi, a friend and follower of St. Francis of Assisi, who we know as the patron saint of animals. It was a nice coincidence to find this beautiful love token with a swallow carrying a note titled Clara.
This love token is approximately 17mm in diameter and is set in a 14k YG and diamond bezel with an openable bale.
Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery - each bezel is custom made per coin
Love tokens are antique coins that were planed down on one or both sides and embellished with names, personal messages, images and bon mots.
The exact origin of this practice is up for debate: some numismatists trace the history back to 13th century England and the practice of bending coins. When asking a favorite saint for a favor, coins were bent and pledges were made as a physical token of the pledge made. The practice of engraving coins took off during the late 1600’s through the 1800’s, when coins were engraved with everything from primitive to highly skilled techniques in equal measure.
Typically, the minted words and images were removed from the obverse side of the coin - the front of the coin, or what we call heads when we flip a coin as they are commonly decorated with the bust of a prominent person. In some cases the reverse of the coin was used as the blank canvas for the embellishment, which is why you may see a love token of the same year with a different backside. While both sides of the coin are interesting, using the reverse side makes it difficult to determine the year in which the coins were minted.
Love tokens were executed on practically all denominations of coins in many countries. According to the US Mint, the love token phenomenon caused a shortage of dimes during the peak of the craze. Dimes were not a huge amount of money to throw away, thus their popularity. When other coins were used, the choice of coin communicated social and economic status: gold coins and larger denominations of silver coins were a sign of the givers’ wealth, whereas nickels and pennies were seldom used as they were considered common due to their composition – nickel and copper versus silver or gold.