Love Tokens

1908_2_0_0dt1 combined

David Huntington. Miniature on ivory, ca. 1810. This miniature, with a woven lock of hair in the back, was probably painted at the time of Huntington’s marriage to Ann Carly. Her initials are inscribed on it.

Last week on Valentine’s Day I was musing about some of the objects in the collections here at the CHS that were given in former times as tokens of affection. Yes, we have Valentine cards–lots of them–but we also have more intimate artifacts that were exchanged by engaged couples or by husbands and wives.  These include painted miniature portraits that were often encased in pendants and worn as jewelry. sometimes with a lock of the loved one’s hair tucked into a special compartment on the back of the frame.  Such keepsakes were popular in the late eighteenth century and continued in vogue into the early nineteenth century until, with the invention of photography, painted miniatures became virtually obsolete.  Even so, the tradition continued, and some early photographs were incorporated into jewelry.  The Connecticut Historical Society has a large collection of miniature portraits, many of which may be viewed in its online catalog.  Take a look and see if you can tell which ones originally might have served as love tokens.

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