The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.) in Ballarat currently has on display a 45 piece collection of convict love tokens that date from 1791-1843. Until 22 Jan the display features these rare keepsakes given to loved ones before the convicts left for the new colony in Australia. This is possibly the largest private collection of these tokens in the world and is well worth the visit.
The exhibition is called “Leaden Hearts” which is the name given to the tokens by the convicts and their guards. The tokens are made from smoothed down coins inscribed with text, a design and/or heartfelt messages. Often this message is a name and forget-me-not which speaks for itself. These were most commonly large copper British cartwheel pennies from 1797. They were intended to be kept in pockets or a safe place close to the heart as a reminder of their far-away lost love or family member. These rare tokens are on loan from the Peter Lane collection.