Have been a little obsessed with love tokens for a long while. The image above is one of a whole load of my own love tokens that I made back in about 2004. My parents had decided to sell the house that I had spent almost my entire life, and I was staggered at the sense of loss I experienced at the prospect of leaving it. I felt I couldn't just withdraw without some sort of significant act, something that demonstrated its importance to me and my formation (my parents built it themselves, on the hills surrounding Bath and overlooking the town).
So I sanded down (by hand) one side of a 2 pence coin for every year that I had lived there (26 years). It took ages and felt incredibly doting. But that's what these gestures are all about. I couldn't find words to express all the emotion tied up with that place, so I left them blank. Just too personal I suppose - I couldn't bear to belittle or make hackneyed these feelings. It became more about the feel of their smooth facets, as if I'd been carrying them around with me for years in my pocket. And although they still look a little rough in the picture above, they weren't (and they were a real bitch to get entirely scratch-free with just sand-paper, water and elbow-grease alone!). Queen Elizabeth's face remained, impervious and impenetrable on the other side, the name a casual reference to me. Before I left, I hid all the coins in significant places around that house for the next inhabitants to discover. And they did - some of them anyway. But a few I think you'd have to tear the place down to get to actually.
Have a look at The Golden Smith's blog and his great post on love tokens: lots of interesting stuff referencing a sort of truth-to-materials ethos. His post reminded me of the above and made me think about convicts love tokens, exchanged between families and loved ones as they set sail from our shores for new lives elsewhere, particularly in relation to all the 'ah-hoy' things I've been thinking about lately.