A token of affection: Four antiques to bid for and buy for this Valentine’s Day

Picture this: it’s Valentine’s Day and you present your sweetheart with a huge box.


This 17th century halfpenny is offered with an estimate of £300-400.

Inside is a series of smaller, tissue-paper-wrapped boxes leading to a tiny blue box containing a shiny new piece of jewellery. They love it – right?

Wrong! They don’t want a brand-new diamond fresh out of the ground with all the carbon footprint that entails. And they don’t want to put all that tissue paper in the bin. Better hide those un-seasonal hothouse flowers behind your back too.

This year it’s time to branch out. Get something that shows your Valentine that he or she deserves something special with lots of character that’s environmentally friendly and maybe has some history to it.

On thesaleroom.com there’s a huge range of modern watches and jewellery to choose from, so that shiny look can be bought greener and cheaper than new, and a range of historic pieces that could help win a heart next month.

Heart token

Dix Noonan Webb’s auction of February 1-2 includes a collection of tokens built up by Quentin Archer. This 17th-century heart- shaped trade halfpenny is inscribed Hugh Ley and to the reverse Southwark, St George’s Church. Although there are similar looking love tokens from the same era, this was a commercial piece, likely shaped to be eye-catching and remind people of the tradesperson whose shop it was for. It still has appeal for lovers in (and of) south London. DNW has estimated it at £300-400.

View and bid for this halfpenny here.

An everlasting love

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This bracelet is offered with an estimate of £1000-1500 at Catherine Southon on February 2.

Offered at Catherine Southon on February 2 with an estimate of £1000-1500 is this mid-Victorian garnet and yellow gold snake bracelet. The scrolling-engraved head is collet-set with two garnet cabochons and the articulated tapering body is composed of pierced star links and a later safety chain.

Far more fluent than us in the language of jewellery and stones, the Georgians and the Victorians would immediately have made the link between snakes and eternal love. The ouroboros – a serpent swallowing its own tail - was commonly understood as a symbol of eternity and the form took a popular leap forward when Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a snake engagement ring with an emerald, her birthstone, set to its head.

View and bid for this snake bracelet here.

My vintage Valentine

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This job lot, going under the hammer at Greenslade Taylor Hunt on February 3 has an estimate of £30-35 and includes six novelty Valentine’s Day cards.

A job lot of collectables including six novelty Valentine’s Day cards is going under the hammer at Greenslade Taylor Hunt on February 3. Estimated at £30-35, the collection might bring a bit of vintage joy to your Valentine’s Day – and beyond, as the lot also includes items such as scouting badges, livery buttons and a Digestive’s sample tin.

View and bid for these novelty Valentine’s Day cards here.

A message from the past

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This early Victorian ring is estimated at £200-300 at Catherine Southon’s auction of February 2.

This early Victorian ruby and pearl ring is inscribed Love and Live Happy. It is estimated at £200-300 at Catherine Southon’s auction of February 2.

View and bid for this ring here.



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