"When this you see
Think on me
When I am in a far country"

inscription on a convict love token

'pennies had been altered in order to serve as mementos for the convicts who were soon to be transported away from their homeland and from their family and friends. in official records of the times, these tokens were also referred to as "leaden hearts".

discontent and venom could be averted in a clandestine manner without risk of detection of reprisal

  • portable graffiti...
  • token replacing the body and voice of the convict.
  • bridging separation wrought by emigration and transportation.
  • illegality of the action may have fuelled the protest and intensified the pleasure
  • postcards before sailing

convict love tokens referencing tatoos

the tattooed inscriptions showed that the convicts were real men and women with hopes and fears just like the rest of us and although the tattoos were recorded by the authorities to help identify escaped convicts, to the convicts they were a way to make human statements about themselves.

For some convicts, tattoos were purely decorative, while others recorded the date of their trial, transportation, or date when their sentence would expire. Others gave family trees, slogans, religious symbols, and many more. One of the most popular images was an anchor and interestingly, most of the wearers had nothing to do with the sea. It was used as a symbol of hope and constancy and was often attached to a loved one's initials.