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The Grigoryan Brothers describe the Museum’s collection of more than 300 convict love tokens as both moving and inspiring. They chose this particular token because the words engraved on it had resonance for them.

Love Token

A convict love token from the National Museum's collection and how it inspired a composition by the Grigoryan Brothers. Courtesy ABC Classic
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Presenters: Slava and Leonard Grigoryan with Alice Keath

Dear brother, remember me

This token is reflective of the geographical distance between Slava and Leonard during the COVID-19 global pandemic and their deep and enduring personal connection as brothers.

The composition is a timeline, invoking a sense of longing and distance as it builds towards a final reunion.

A convict love token, made up of a coin, engraved on one side. The engraved side features the text 'DEAR BROTHER / WHEN THIS YOU SEE / REMEMBER ME / WHEN I AM FAR AWAY / 1819'.

Convict love token

Convict love tokens

This is one of 314 convict love tokens the National Museum of Australia holds in its collection. They were made by convicts facing transportation to Australia, usually at the time of sentencing, and were given to family members and friends they would leave behind. Smoothing and engraving a coin with a message of affection was one of the few ways a convict could leave a memento with a loved one in England.

These small tokens, also known as ‘leaden hearts’, record personal and emotional responses from convicts whose lives are more often represented by official government records. This token, inscribed in 1819, bears the words, ‘Dear brother when this you see remember me when I am far away’.

Browse our collection

See both sides of hundreds of tokens in our collection, read transcripts and ask questions on our dedicated convict love tokens website.

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