Sweetheart necklace token made from penny : Irene and Ken, 1943

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales
Accession Number REL42188
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Trench Art
Physical description Copper, Tin, Zinc
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1943 - 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Australian George VI penny, still bearing the head on the reverse. The obverse has been effaced, obliterating the date and reducing the thickness of the penny by about half. A compass rose has been impressed into the centre, with the words 'Irene Ken Canoe (?) 1943', all enclosed within a simple scalloped decorative border. The overall design has been built up by multiple angled stampings with a short sharp blade. A suspension hole has been drilled into the upper third of the coin and it appears that in the process the reverse has been damaged, resulting in a semi-circular impression dent.

History / Summary

A sweetheart coin handmade from an Australian George VI penny employing a compass rose as its central decoration, suggesting that this may have been made by a member of the military. The coin was discovered by the donor in 'an old built-in cupboard at an old business premises at 2 Regent St, Kogarah. The premises were heritage listed and before my occupation was used by a solicitor who left some files behind in the cupboard.'

The identity of the two names, and the meaning of the word 'canoe' (if it has been correctly interpreted) has not yet been discovered. Certainly there are no Australian servicemen or women possessing this surname and it is suspected this may refer to a lover's tryst in 1943. Whatever the event was, it was significant enough for the maker to devote a deal of time in its manufacture.