Grandma Horseshoe Love Token
While Victorians paid tribute to the mothers of the time with numerous Mama, Mamma and Mother love tokens, Grandmother and Grandma love tokens are much more scarce, likely due to the low life expectancy in the 19th Century, making this an extra special love token. There is much folklore and legend around horseshoes, with the upward facing horseshoe inviting and retaining good luck into their homes, and the downward facing horseshoe symbolizes luck flowing out of the home. In the case of this love token, we think the horseshoe was allowing the luck to flow from grandmother to her grandchildren - the ultimate act of kindness that we all know our grandmothers would do for us if possible.
This love token is on a US dime, and is engraved on both sides so the mint date is unknown. It measures approximately 17.3 mm in diameter and is set in a gold and diamond bezel with bale.
---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.