About the object

Safely returned

This object tells the story of the token system working exactly as it was meant to. In 1758 a baby boy was admitted to the Hospital. Left with him were this token, a note describing it, and a piece of yellow ribbon. Five years later, in 1763, his father returned to claim him, proving his identity with a matching token, a piece of the same ribbon and a copy of the note. The boy, originally Oliver Luke and renamed Luke Perkins by the Hospital, was returned to his father.

From currency to token

Several tokens were made by rubbing a coin smooth and then engraving it. This one started as a shilling from the reign of Charles II (1660–1685). Rubbed flat on both sides, it has the motto ‘Innocency in Safety’ on one side and initials RL and ED on the reverse.

RL and ED

The child’s father was Richard Luke and his mother was Elizabeth Dixey. They were not married but had three children together. Only Oliver survived infancy. Both Richard and Elizabeth were excommunicated from the church following the birth of their first ‘illegitimate’ child.