Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The love token rally with Clodhoppers, when i was sick as a dog. Worcestershire metal detecting.

Well the time had come for the Clodhoppers mdc annual weekender. A weekend of fun filled metal detecting, camp fire antics and all around good sport.
I decided to finish work a little early on Friday, and load the car with my camping gear. You would think a simple two night camping trip would take 5 minutes to put together, well think again. After 2 hrs of packing the car was full to the brim. 
I set off and hit the usual delays and diversions on our wonderful motorway network. At one point I was diverted into spaghetti junction at 5.15 on a Friday, really not where anyone wilfully goes at the best of times.
On arrival to the site, I was surprised to see so many caravans and tents already set up. I quickly set up my tent in a pitch away from the others, as I did not want to keep anyone awake with my snoring.
I cracked open a Fosters and wondered over to the crowed for a chat. There were pats of cow shit everywhere, one of which I managed to tread in with just my flip flops on.
The fields looked amazing. Two fields were ploughed and rolled, the rest were pasture. Wayne who was the finder of the permission commented that we would have to give the farmer a hand in the morning to get some bulls off the pasture.

The rolling hills of wonderful Worcestershire. Note the detectorists enjoying the rally. Picture courtesy of woody

The camp fire was soon roaring (the farmer had dropped us a ton of wood). Chairs were pulled around the fire and people gathered. A guitar was being played and the air was full of banter and laughter.
I headed back to my tent at about 11.30 as I was a bit hungry and had eaten nothing since breakfast. A tin of corned beef was opened; I ate about 1/3rd of it before getting into my bag and going to sleep. At 4 am I woke and immediately felt a bit queasy. After about 10 minutes I began to projectile vomit out of my tent door, and scrambled to the hedge at the back of the tent. I am pretty sure I almost heaved one of my lungs up. That being said I felt like I had got whatever ailed me out of the system once the vomiting stopped.
Cars belonging to the one day detectorists began arriving at about 7.30am, I organised the parking. There were  people turning up at regular intervals, most of who I knew and a few I had never seen before.
There were about 25 who camped and at least 35 who turned up for the day. Everyone attended a briefing from Wayne just before 9am, and then off they went.
My son was the last to arrive on site. We quickly got the detectors out and headed off into the fields. I told him that I had been sick and was feeling a bit iffy again. Within 30 minutes I was doing a impression of the projectile vomiting, that the exorcist film exhibited. I knew by now i was going to be ill for at least the rest of the day. Simon my son was using my Whites Spectrum XLT, and sure enough he soon was on the money. At the top of a ridge he found a small hammered silver coin which was almost blank. Due to me being ill we decided to get closer to the tent in case I started spewing up again. By now i was feeling drained and got into the tent and fell asleep. Simon carried on detecting and found a lovely 1725 silver love token. There had also been found a Gold love token by one of the ladies on the dig, as well as quite a  few other love tokens of various denominations. 
Simon's 1725 silver shilling

Gold love token

This got me thinking of how a gold coin could be used as a love token and either lost or discarded in this field?

There is an old nursery rhyme that mentions such things;

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

I think the reference to crooked sixpence is about a discarded love token.

Now this is my take on what would happen back in the day;
A young man would have an eye for a young lady. He would have to impress upon her that he was serious about his feelings. This would be conveyed to her by presenting a coin bent into a‘s’ shape as a token of undying love and dedication. Some say that the man would bend the coin with his bare hands in front of the lady as a show of strength.
There is a train of thought that says love tokens (coins) were rubbed smooth on each side and then engraved with a message of love for the lady to keep and read. I have found many tokens, some smooth and flat, some bent and with all details on them.

Rubbed smooth
Rubbed smooth

 I have yet to find one with a message engraved that I can read. That being said, i have seen ones with engravings, but not very often.
The funny thing is that if the Lady was not impressed, she would discard the token (throw it into a field), only then the young man would know he was not going to get anywhere.
When you think about it, to throw away a silver coin worth about half a weeks wages was a big thing. The young man would be gutted on so many levels, and the young lady would really have to dislike him to throw it.
The poorer classes would sometimes use a copper coin to impress the lady; however I would imagine they were taking a risk that some one would come along and out do them. I have not found many bent copper coins; perhaps the young men knew better and would make sure they at least offered at least a silver sixpence (the crooked sixpence).
The weekend dig as I said earlier produced many tokens, including a gold quarter noble. That would be at least a week’s wages for a well paid man at the time.
I can just imagine the son of one of the local landowners bending his gold token up and presenting it to a beautiful young lady from the next village. Only problem was the lad was a mess, with two of his front teeth missing and a serious case of halitosis. To top it off he had a wart the size of a malteeser on the side of his nose. She held out her hand as he place the love token in it, she was shocked as she knew nothing of his affection. She knew however the only way to rebuff him was to throw the coin over her shoulder and into the field. I bet the lad was rooting through the grass for hours trying to recover it, what he would have given for a Deus I wonder?
I have given my wife a 18th century love token to keep in her purse as a gesture of my love to her (big softy me).
Also there is a belief that some of these tokens were good luck gifts to their lovers, or a lucky charm. I understand that they thought, as long as the token remained in their possession they would never be without money or luck. It is believed that soldiers and sailors often took them (tokens) to war with them. These tokens would be bent in half, not into the 's' shape that the love tokens were bent into. This was so that the recipiant would not spend the money. Below is one such coin that has now been flattened out, note the crease and note the date on it.

1943 sixpence, ww2 in full flow.

How romantic and tragic at the same time were these love tokens? I am trying to compare the giving of a love token with what we do these days to win over a lady. May be when we take a young lady for a meal? Chip shop for first meal is the equivalent of a copper coin token.
Silver sixpence would be a Chinese takeaway.
Silver shilling would be a top notch Indian curry house, with a bottle of Châteaux Bilston.
The gold token would be a meal at the Ritz, followed by copious amounts of Bollinger.
Its not to be said that the Chip shop meal would not do the trick, love after all is blind.

James 1 half groat possibly bent into love token   1604-1619

Love tokens are not worth much to numismatists, however they mean a lot to me and i am sure to others who find them.
The weekender dig will always be remembered by me for the projectile vomiting and the beautiful Gold love token, not an ideal match i know.

God bless.

if you like what i do, throw me a dollar and i will soon have more interesting posts for your enjoyment.


  1. Great. Although I reckon the Suspected Hammered is in fact a William III Sixpence worn totally smooth. c1696. Beautiful Gold. The Shilling, if it has 'SS - C' in angles on the Reverse will date to 1723.

    1. Thanks CB, the shilling has the number 25 intact on it, rite where its clipped/broken.