About the object

In remembrance

The black ribbon stitched around this ace of diamonds might symbolise the mother’s loss of her child, or perhaps her death. On the back of the card is written: ‘This is in remembrance of EB, November 2 1756, SB’. The little girl, admitted a day later on 3 November, became Esther Huntsman. Sadly, she died in infancy. We can connect this token to Esther because her foundling number has been written on it, probably by one of the Hospital clerks.

Ace of diamonds

Eighteenth-century playing cards were different from modern ones in one significant way: they all had plain backs. This made them particularly suitable to be used as tokens because a single card from a pack could be chosen as an individual identifier and then a message could be written on the reverse. Card playing was so popular in the eighteenth century that from 1711 the manufacture of cards attracted a heavy tax.