1. Photography by Jason McCarthy, National Museum of Australia.

Engraving a coin with a message of affection was one of the only ways a convict transported to Australia could leave behind a memento for loved ones in England. The National Museum of Australia holds the world’s largest collection of convict tokens, with 314 in total. They show the tenderness and aspirations of some of those transported here in the early days of colonisation. This token was probably engraved by Henry Barton, aged 32, a shipwright who was tried for dealing in counterfeit coins in 1825. See this token, and the rest of the national collection, in Canberra.

To learn about the other convict love tokens in the National Museum of Australia’s collection visit: love-tokens.nma.gov.au