Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 2:31pm

Sometime in early 1825, a convicted man, confined to a hulk on the River Thames and awaiting transportation to the Australian colonies, engraved a poignant personal message on a smoothed-down 1797 English ‘cartwheel’ penny. On one side two lovebirds flutter above a heart drawn around the paired initials ‘EWN / CD’. The reverse is inscribed: THIS IS A TOKEN FROM MY HAND FOR I AM GOING TO VAN DIEMANS LAND 1825. The token was probably made by Cornelius Donovan, a young man convicted at the Old Bailey in December 1824 for stealing 18lbs of sewing cotton from a London haberdasher. He was sentenced to transportation for 7 years and spent four months on board the hulk Bellerophon before being transferred to the convict ship Medina on 6 April 1825, along with 178 other male convicts.  The Medina left Sheerness Downs, off the coast of Kent in the English Channel, on 19 April 1825 and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 8 September 1825. Cornelius Donovan was 19 years old.

Photograph: Penny Clay, 2013
Convict love token, inscribed in 1825 Convict love token, inscribed in 1825 Convict love token, inscribed in 1825
Hyde Park Barracks