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Charm or token bracelet

Object Number: 
2017.31
Date: 
late 19th century
Medium: 
Sterling silver band, silver coins and loops
Dimensions: 
Closed (diam.): 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Marks: 
Marks: “STERLING” stamped along inside edge of bracelet band
Inscriptions: 
Description: 

Charm bracelet constructed from sterling silver band and nine coins suspended from small, applied, silver loops; band end has small applied hook, when closed it fits into one of two cut-out rectangular openings located at opposite end. Charms made from coins minted between 1868 and 1892; coins are: American (4); British (3 Queen Victoria jubilee coins); and Italian (one a lira dating from 1868, the other a religious token depicting St. Christopher and Jesus on one side and the word “ROMA” on the opposite). Six of the coins have been filed down and monogrammed on one side. Monograms include: “LI”, “BF”, “PS”, “HH” and “WJC”. Remnant of tenth coin loop remains on band.

Gallery Label: 

Silver token or charm bracelets such as this example were popular in the United States during the late nineteenth century. The style was inspired by the English “love token” and mourning jewelry made fashionable by Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert, in 1861.

Mourning and “love token” jewelry was often made from the hair of loved ones or contained their personal mementos. American women picked up the trend for sentimental jewelry after the Civil War, when many were looking to commemorate lost brothers, sons, and husbands. By the late nineteenth century, personal and sentimental objects also became popular as expressions of friendship or love, or were a way in which to remember special events. The custom of inscribing coins as keepsakes dates to the late-seventeenth century, and also became an inexpensive way to create customized friendship, love, or memorial jewelry.

As the diminutive size of this bracelet illustrates, young girls enjoyed remembering friendships or events with coin charms. Foreign coins, such as those added to this bracelet, often indicate that an owner travelled to collect the tokens. The original owner of this bracelet, however, was raised among Manhattan’s Lower East Side immigrant community. These coins, along with the range of monograms that are inscribed on them, probably instead indicate the multicultural environment she grew up in or the range of nationalities her friends represented.

Bibliography: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of Abigail Booth Gerdts for her grandmother, Celia Friedman
Provenance: 
Place Made: 
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group