World Coins

Convict’s love token brings $596 Australian ($560 U.S.) in auction

A convict love token was created from this 1797 British Cartwheel penny, having the names of the two lovers inscribed within the hollowed-out center of the large coin.

Images courtesy of Noble Numismatics.

An artifact of a convict’s love nearly tripled its estimate when sold in Noble Numismatics’ July 29 auction.

The 1797 British Cartwheel penny carved into a love token by a convict in Australia sold in the firm’s auction No. 106 in Sydney, for $596.25 Australian (about $560.42 in U.S. funds) including the 19.25 percent buyer’s fee, nearly triple its $200 estimate.

Cartwheel pennies are noted for their size and weight (1 ounce, 36-millimeter diameter), which was possible because they were struck using steam power at Matthew Boulton’s Soho Mint. The Royal Mint lacked the technology to strike a coin of that size.

The piece in the Noble auction is cut in half, hollowed out and made into a container, which is inscribed inside on the base ELIZABETH/DA11IN/EDWARD/ROWLAND, according to the catalog, below which appear overlaid hearts with an arrow through them. 

The auction house graded the piece Very Fine.

Rowland was sentenced at Central Criminal Court in London to seven years, and was shipped to Australia along with 189 other convicts on the Egyptian. The ship departed April 5, 1839, and arrived in Australia about Dec. 5, 1839.

The auction was held July 29 to 31, and realized a hammer price estimated at $3,820,000 Australian (about $3,590,490 U.S.), the firm announced.

For more details about the auction, visit the firm's website.

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