Sample of Civil War era carved coin jewelry
Although coin jewelry has likely been around since coins were first popular, it is thought that the Egyptians were the first to wear them as jewelry. The Egyptian soldiers would collect coins along their travels and turn them into wearable art. The “Love Token” began to appear in Great Britain during the late 1600’s through the 1700’s. Most Love Tokes were coins that were smoothed by hand and then engraved with a special message. These tokens were used to celebrate a birth, a special date, initials or name of a lover or family member, or even as a remembrance of someone lost. Later versions included hobbies and favorite places or images. Love tokens became popular in the United States about the time of the Civil War when soldiers would collect coins and send them back to their family with special messages engraved or carved into them.
The “rules” of Love Tokens are simple; they MUST be actual currency AND carved or engrave by hand. Although there has been some controversy over the legality of coin carving in the past, it is currently NOT against the law. It is similar to the coin imprinting machines you might see at the zoo or in amusement parks. As long as the coin altering is not done with intent to defraud anyone, it is NOT considered illegal defacement of currency.
At Harlequin Carved Coins I try to keep the Love Token tradition alive by carving each piece by hand and designing each image specifically for the receiver of the coin. The customer gets to choose the coin that is used for their love coin, usually selecting a year that is meaningful or a coin with a specific image, like the state or park quarters. I then start each coin by drilling a tiny hole(s) then using a fine toothed jeweler’s saw to carve each piece by hand, sometimes taking several hours on one coin. The finished carved coins are wrapped with a bezel and set as a pendant for a necklace, bracelet or keychain. As a coin carver, I am inspired by the journey the coin is going to take and the relationship between the designer and the receiver of the coin. Nearly 90 percent of my designs are created by the customers themselves and each carry a special meaning. I have designed coins to represent people’s names and personal messages or turned the coin into animals or objects (like ships or lighthouses). People have come to me for images close to their heart like remembrance pieces and even pictures of the wearer’s family or pets. PLEASE contact me with any ideas you have! I am always happy to help you design something that will be meaningful for you and/or your loved one.
Carved Coins LLC