Hazel is a primarily female given name, from the name of the tree that bears the delicious Hazelnut. In Britain, the hazel has long been regarded as having magical qualities, although the name was decidedly unpopular there. Hazel's popularity in the United States is a different story - it broke into the US top 100 first in 1886 at #81 and rose to #22 by 1895, enjoying its top 50 continually until 1926 and in the Top 100 until 1936.
This Love Token is engraved Hazel on a US Type 1 Gold Liberty $1 Coin. This coin was minted 1849 to 1853, and were part of the Pre-1933 US Gold that was recalled as an effort to help battle the Great Depression. The recall of Gold made these coins a rare find - and the love token a special one!
The coin is 13mm in diameter, and in the bezel it is 17.34mm wide and 34.09mm long including the openable bale. This coin can be ordered with pave diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires (39 1mm stones). Total carat weight varies by stone, approximate weight as follows:
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.