|Love Token – Front||Love Token – Back|
In June 2003, Gerry Bonfield was walking down the path between the eleventh green and the twelfth tee and found a love token at the base of where an old tree had been chopped down on the left hand side of the path where it crosses the Wayfarers Walk.
The love token (2 cm in diameter) is dated 1697 and has the head of William III. It was a silver sixpence but is now a crooked sixpence.
Love tokens have appeared in a variety of guises down through the centuries. Perhaps the most common, and popular form is that of an engagement or wedding ring. Another form is that of the St Valentine’s Day cards which we have all, at some time or another, sent or received. Early cards of this type were hand-made and decorated by the sender, but the custom became so popular that from the 1830s Valentine cards were produced commercially.
The Welsh custom of giving a wooden spoon as a love token is still in practice today. In the past these spoons were hand-carved by young men hopeful of winning a girl’s heart, and involved workmanship of a very high standard.
Another custom that has died out today, was the giving of a silver coin (often very worn) as a token of love. In order for the coin to take on the properties of an amulet, and to prevent it from being used for its original purpose, it was bowed or bent in half.
These love tokens were given by a young man to the girl of his choice to demonstrate his affection for her. If the young lady concerned kept the token, it meant that she returned his affection. If she threw the token away it meant that her feelings for him were nil.
Many of these bowed or crooked coins have been found on farmland, and they seem particularly prolific where fairs were held. In the past, fairs or similar events of this type, were the only occasions when large numbers of people collected together, and perhaps the only chance in country areas for young people to meet.
The custom of giving crooked coins was at its height in the reign of William III and many examples of love tokens of this period have been found on fair sites.
In the latter half of the 18th century copper pennies and halfpennies became fashionable as love tokens. The surface of these coins was first smoothed down so that all traces of the monarch’s head and Britannia were removed. The coin would then be engraved with various symbols of love such as hearts, loveknots, on the initials of the sender and recipient.