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Convict love token from W. Griffiths, 1825

2008.0039.0055

Convict love token from W. Griffiths, 1825

Object information

Physical description

A convict love token, made up of a coin, engraved on one side. The engraved side features the text 'W. Griffiths / Committed to / Monmouth Gaol / For the Asiezes / April 10th 1825 Aged 19 / Bristol', with a laurel wreath surrounding and a sprig at the top. The other side is the reverse of a George III Halfpenny with a portait captioned 'GEORGIUS III / DEI GRATIA REX'.

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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