Chosen by Christine, a Museum volunteer

About the object

For most of the tokens we are unable to identify the child with whom they were left – and the medal of eminent scientist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton falls into this category. Each half has a hole which could mean it was meant to hang on a thread, and the medal has been inscribed with the letter E. Initials (and words or symbols) were sometimes added to such tokens to make an object unique. They may relate to the child or the mother’s name.

The medal itself is an inexpensive tin copy of a copper medallion designed in Switzerland by Dassier, the back shows Newton’s marble tomb (Rysbrack and others 1730) in Westminster Abbey. Newton was a popular subject and various commemorative medals were produced. There are five drill marks down the centre cut edge where the split has been started. Because it is a cheap metal it would then not be difficult to cut it in half with a narrow file or saw.