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Convict love token from T.C., 17th July 1787

2008.0039.0010

Convict love token from T.C., 17th July 1787

Object information

Description

Thomas Collins, 22, a labourer, was tried at the Old Bailey on 17 July 1787 for burgling John Hillman's house at 5 Craven Street, Charing Cross. Collins was sentenced to death and executed at Newgate Prison on 30 August 1787.

Physical description

A convict love token, made up of a round metal disc, engraved on both sides. One side features an image of a man in chains with the text 'T C. CAST 17th JULY 1787'. The other side features an image of a woman holding a flower with the text 'Mrs Prestrage' around the edge.

Statement of significance

The Timothy Millett collection comprises 307 convict love tokens dating from 1762 to 1856, and seven contemporary documents relating to the criminal justice system including: recommendations to commute the death sentences of Hester Sampson and Thomas Hayes to life transportation; a calendar of prisoners awaiting trial in the goals of Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland; a request to the Middlesex assizes for rewards to be paid; a printed copy of George Skene's last speech prior to execution; a printed broadside listing prisoners in Dorchester jail awaiting transportation; and a 60 page handwritten account of the life of Thomas Jones, who was transported twice and finally hanged at Winchester Prison in 1856.

Convict love tokens, typically made from smoothed-down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, derive from traditional sailors' farewells. The production of these 'leaden hearts' rose as criminal indictments increased in Britain, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As mementos made by or for convicts facing transportation (or death) to leave behind for their loved ones, the tokens provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system.

Object information

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