Enameled Coins are very unusual and most delightful pieces of
Victorian jewelery, usually made from a silver coins of Queen
Victoria. The amount of time and quality of craftsmanship that went
into making these pieces is incredible, since before being
enamelled the coin had to be hand-engraved and the reverse design
cut out. These recesses were then filled with paste made from
ground-up glass that was then heated in a kiln until the glass
melted and fused. These brooches were fashionable for a time during
the turn of the 19th century.
Love tokens have been made since Medieval Times. In the 18th and
19th centuries, coins were still used as Love Tokens. They were
hand made, created by young men to give to their sweethearts and in
some instances were given by soldiers and sailors before the went
abroad in case they were to die.
Love tokens vary in size and all types of coins are used. Each
token is unique; no two are alike. In Victorian times, they were
fashionable to both men and women. They were suspended by
necklaces, bracelets and watch chains, some were carried in purses
and pockets as a remembrance of love and wealth.The poorer class
made tokens from copper or bronze coins until a silver coin could
be acquired. The wealthy man chose a silver or gold coin to make
These tokens were simple to make, although a highly decorative
piece was usually achieved. The coin is rubbed until one or both
sides are flat; the maker then engraved or stamped their own words,
pattern or initials onto the blank side.
When considering that most men who did this
were low-skilled and illiterate, some of the results are quite
This interesting note was taken from an Ebay auction of
"Wonderful High Grade 1834 Enamel Coin. SUPERB.There seems to be a
little confusion as to the origin of enamelled coins, and the
subsequent artists who created and designed them. The craft sprang
from the Victorian love of unusual jewellery. Enamel buttons were
popular, and the skills of enamelling could be transfered to coins.
Being decorative and not funtional, these could feature elaborate
designs. The main year of production was 1887, Queen Victoria's
Golden Jubilee, "The magic year of enamelling."
The year saw a huge growth in the demand and production for
royal memorabilia. The majority of enamelled coins are based on the
existing design of the original coin. The first task in the
production process was to take out all the background of the coin,
leaving the letters and pattern in. In some cases the letters and
design were even removed.
The enamel was then applied in layers, fired and then ground
down to enable the colors to come through in varying shades. This
process was often done in more than one stage to enable the
intricate colors and painted effect to be perfected. It was most
usual to enamel on just one side of the coin, but some coins are
enamelled on both sides.
These are considerably rarer, and leaves the question: How did
they get the enamel to flow on the second side without the first
side dropping off? It was assumed that all enamel would fuse
at about the same temperature. The art has now disappered, so
we cannot answer this question.
Popular designs included leaves and flower, coats of arms,
Britannia and of course Queen Victoria. In some, the bust of the
monarch are completely removed and replaced in enamels. The coin
pictured above by an unknown designer features many of the popular
designs in one coin. The rarest enamel coins are those of gold. Few
examples can be seen today, and those that do exist are mainly made
from dated sovereigns.
Two of the finest coin enamellers were William Henry Probert and
the Steel family. The earliest enamelled coins were thought to have
been produced by William Henry Probert in his Birmingham workshop.
His initial designs were very plain with no more than three colors
used. However, the coins were expertly engraved. As the coins
became more popular, his designs became more colorful and
Pictured above is an early coin by William Henry Probert. Edward
Steele, was a well known engraver and enameller, who started a
venture in his own name designing enamelled coins. His son Edwin
and later Edwin's son Henry carried on the business of
manufacturing coin jewellery. Edwin's enamel coins are thought to
be the finest, with engraving under the enamel to enable light to
filter through the enamel. This created superb variations to the
Pictured above is an enamelled coin featuring Queen Victoria by