By Carol (Harmes) Bastable December 2000 Love Letter, Updated 2012

1.  Initials: Mostly 1-3 initials although up to seven overlapping initials have been reported on one love token.

            a. Friends and family

            b. Decorative: overlapping letters and various type face styles

            c. Arrangement: letters turned on an angle or sideways.

            d. Letter combinations: rarer ones might be all the same letters (ex. H.H.H)

            e. Single letters

            f. Interesting initials (ex. MC of Jr. used with other initials).

2.   Names

            a. First names

            b. First and last names

            c. Names with addresses or dates

            d. Multiple names

3.  Fancy Borders

4.  Dates/Numbers

            a. Numerical dates (ex. 12-25-96)

            b. Printed dates (ex. December 25th 96)

            c. Holidays: Hallows Eve, 4th of July, Christmas, Christmas Eve, etc.

            d. Single numbers (ex. 15): Mystery as to what they might signify.

            e. Anniversaries

            f. Births and Deaths

5.  Places: Names of locations (ex. Hanging Rock).

6.  Presentation/Gift (ex. From A to S)

7.  Sayings/Messages (ex. My heavenly jewel or forget-me-not) ……….Click here to view sayings

Note: some messages may have to be translated from other languages.  German seems to be more common on the foreign languages.

8.  Enameled ……….Click here to view enamel

            a. Letters are mostly enameled.

            b. Pictorials: occasionally one can find flowers (one pictorial example exists of the sky enameled in blue on a

            ten dollar gold piece depicting a moon and star).

            c. English enameled coins, where the enamel is a replica of the coin image, may also be included in this category, but more aptly belongs in 

            the semi-telated category.

9.  Jeweled: …………Click here to view jeweled 
Stones are set either with initials or combined in a pictorial.

10.  Metal Overlay: …………Click here to view overlay
Technique is mostly done with raised initials in gold or silver, but occasionally copper is used.  On rare occasions a pictorial image might be raised (ex. Horseshoe).

11.  Cut Down Coins: ….…….Click here to view cut down 
The coin is cut and shaped into a design.  The octagon is the most common, but cut out initials may also be found.  Rare examples are clover and a sheriff’s star.  Engraving should accompany the cut out design.

12.  Family Members: Mother (Ma Mama), Father (Pa, Papa, Dad), Sister, Brother, Grandmother (Grandma), Grandfather (Grandpa), Aunt (Auntie), Uncle, Cousin, Baby, and Nanny.

13U.S. Type Coins:  Collect one of each type possible.

14.  Year Sets: Collect love tokens by date.  Dimes are the most common, but one can try other types as well (Indian cents, half dimes, and seated quarters).

15.  Country Type Set:  Collect love tokens from as many different countries as possible (Host Coins: Canada, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Italy, etc.).

16.  Early Great Britain: Are mostly on large copper pennies and usually engraved on both sides.

17.  Post Victorian love tokens:  Many were engraved during WW II and sent home to Sweethearts, also called Sweetheart Jewelry.  A few love tokens have an art deco style and may have been engraved around the time of WW I.  There is also a developing trend of modern love tokens.  Some were made in the 1980’s by hobo nickel carvers and some modern hobo nickel carvers have again started making love tokens.  Occasionally a modern love token is specially commissioned for a specific name or occasion and usually executed by a jeweler/engraver.

18.  Pictorials ……….Click here to view pictorials

            a. Animals: horse, deer, cow, cat, dog, frog, etc.

            b. People: portrait or full figure.

            c. Erotic: naughty figures.

            d. Birds: swan, heron, owl, hen, generic birds.

            e. Insects: bugs, butterfly.

            f. Landscapes: any combination or trees, hills, river, houses, and churches.

            g. Single building: house, log cabin, or church.

            h. Bridges

            i. Monuments

            j. Lighthouses

            k. Nautical: sails, anchor, boats, etc.

            l. Sports: ice skating, roller skating, canoeing, baseball, etc.

            m. Musical: instruments or music notes

            n. Tools: hammer, trowel, trade tools, etc.

            o. Transportation: train, trolley, bicycle, etc.

            p. Geometric shapes

            q. Scrollwork/banners

            r. Floral

            s. Hearts

            t. Fans: Chinese and European.

            u. Horseshoes

            v. Moon and stars

            w. Religious: angel, Star of David, church, Lord’s Prayer, Cross, etc.

            x. Miscellaneous: odd and unusual pictorials that do not fit the above categories.

19.  Jewelry ……….Click here for the jewelry section

            a. Pins:

  • Single coin with pin back.
  • Triangle pin: love tokens put together to make a triangle shape.
  • Brooch: cluster of coins not in the standard triangle shape.
  • Bar pin: multiple love tokens in a linear format, occasionally bar also has dangling love tokens. 

            b. Stickpin: Both males and females wore them.  They can be made from more than one coin.

            c. Earrings

            d. Ring: Usually the love token hangs as a charm from a band. Some bands are made from the perimeter of a

             coin.  Evidence of a reeded edge is likely.

            e. Charm: Single coin with loop or bezel for wearing on a necklace or bracelet.

            f. Necklace: Consists of more than one coin on a chain (i.e. charm).  Coins may even be linked together to

            makeup the chain.

            g. Locket: (Ex. Box dollar with engraving on either the inside or the outside of the locket….rare)

            h. Bracelet: May be constructed with coins on either a rigid band or wire or may be linked together.

            i. Belt: (very rare)

            j. Watch fob/watch chain: A fob love token is the charm (engraved coin) hanging from a watch chain.  A watch

            chain can also be made by linking love tokens together.

            k. Shirt Studs

            l. Buttons

            m. Cuff links

            n. Chatelaines 

20. Semi-related Categories:  These are areas that can be considered love tokens in a very broad sense.  They may be on the fringes of what accepts and collects as a love token.  By love token definitions, many of these are on coins and engraved by hand.

            a. Organizations: Odd Fellows, Masonic, etc.

            b. Hobo nickel and potty dollar

            c. Satirical: Face of coin changed in mockery.

            d. Military: Coins were engraved with troop numbers and places.

            e. Historical/political: Coins were engraved with historical or political information.

            f. English enamels of coin designs.

            g. Medals: Engraved with traditional love token designs.

            h. Achievement awards: School, athletics, music, etc.

            i. Counterstamp: Text on coins but not hand engraved.

            j. Seals: Letters carved backwards on coins.

            k. Blanks: May have engraved boarders but no initials.

Bear in mind that many love tokens may fit more than one category.  Which category a coin is placed in is up to the needs of each individual collector.