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Convict love token for James Godfrey


On display

Convict love token for James Godfrey

Object information


James Godfrey, 33, baker, was convicted at the Central Court in London for larceny on 30 January 1837. He was sentenced to seven years' transportation. He sailed for Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on the Susan, arriving 21 November 1837. Godfrey was assigned to Mr J Knight in Launceston. However, he was accused of stealing and was discharged from his assignment in October 1838. In February 1841, James received six months' hard labour for being drunk and creating a disturbance. The government recommended a location in an interior district where he continued to be assigned to various masters. In August 1846, Godfrey left Tasmania a free man, bound for Port Phillip on board the Shamrock.

Physical description

Convict love token in the form of a circular copper disc stipple-engraved with ornate decorative details and "JAMES / GODFREY / HANNAH / JONES" is impressed in a clear scroll-shaped area within a paisley-like pattern on side one, flanked by "T. BOULTON" in a smaller scroll on the left and "S. STEVENS" on the right. "WHEN IN CAPTIVITY / TIME GOETH / VERY SLOW BUT / FREE AS AIR / to roam how / quick the / Time / doth / GO" is faintly impressed inside a clear shield-shaped area on side, which also has a paisley-like patterned floral border.

Statement of significance

This collection is comprised of three convict love tokens, made from stiple-engraved, shaved down 1797 pennies: The first (circa 1830) has the words "Thomas/Lock/aged 22/Transptd/10 Years" on the front and "When/ This You/ See/ Remember/ Me When/ Far/ From The(e)" on the reverse. The second, has the words "James/Godfrey/ Hannah/ Jones, T.Boulton, S.Stevens" on the front and "When in/ Captivity/ Time/Goeth/ Very Slow But/ Free As Air/ to roan now/ Quick the/ time/Doth/ Go" on the reverse.. The final token is engraved with "A/L A/P" either side of a balloon and on the reverse "Abraham Law/ In Y 20. Transporte/d Agakeep/ Ann Pemb/uttom 1828".

Convict love tokens, typically made of smoothed down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system, as well as its transnational character. Also known as 'leaden hearts', the tokens stem from traditional sailors' farewells. Convict tokens were made for the whole of the Transportation period in New South Wales and Tasmania, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As objects purposely made by or for convicts to give as mementoes, to be left behind when the prisoner was transported, the tokens are a unique part of the record of a convict's transportation experience.

Physical description

On display at the National Museum of Australia.

Object information

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