“My Tiniest Bit of Victoriana”

As a collector of most things exonumia, I have lots of loves. If it’s neat and I’ve never seen it before, there’s a good chance I’ll buy it. If you’ve been a regular reader of this column, then you know how varied my tastes are. One area I love is the coins, tokens, and medals of England’s Queen Victoria. From a gem Mint State Allen & Moore medal of the 1850s that depicts the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s son and heir to the throne, the future King Edward VII, to holed brass inauguration tokens, I own numerous Victoria-related pieces.

A recent acquisition is the smallest of the tributes to Victoria that I own. This bright brass – though it looks remarkably like low-grade gold in hand – token is just 13.4 mm in diameter. On the obverse a bust left portrait of Victoria with an appearance of an early byzantine gold coin’s effigy is surrounded by the legend VVTGRIAD:G:BRITTAINA in crude and mostly meaningless lettering. The reverse features a central circle with a crown and the date, 1891, within, and with VICTORIACOE INDA around. My guess is that it’s from India, but why the date 1891? Victoria was born in May 1819 and ascended the throne of England in June 1837. It is unclear to me if there were any specific Royal celebrations in 1891, the date of the token. As I write this, my enigmatic little Victoria token stares up at me from my velvet coin tray here on my desk at work. It’s currently leaning against a large, thick 61.1 mm white metal prooflike medal made by Hyam Hyams to celebrate the opening of the Royal Exchange by Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in January 1842. This little token begs for identification, a task I’ve set myself for the near future. Meanwhile, if any of our readers have an idea what this little “doo-dad” is, I’d be happy to hear from you! 

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