About the collection
There are 314 convict love tokens in the National Museum’s collection, ranging in date from 1762 to 1856. The Museum purchased most of the tokens — 307 in all — from British dealer and collector, Timothy Millett.
Millett started his collection in 1984. His interest in convict love tokens began after he joined his family’s firm AH Baldwin & Sons, dealers in coins, commemorative medals, tokens and numismatic (coin collecting) books. In 1984 one of Baldwin’s valued customers offered to sell Millett the 70 tokens that formed the ‘transportation’ section of his numismatic collection. Millett was fascinated by these poignant keepsakes and the tokens became the basis of his own collection. In addition to seeking out and acquiring the tokens, he tried to find out more information about the people named on the tokens, a task made only more difficult by the efforts of many families to cover up any evidence of a convict relation. He continued to build the collection until the Museum acquired the tokens in 2008, to add to its small pre-existing collection of love tokens.
The National Museum now holds the largest collection of convict love tokens in the world. Other institutions in Australia and overseas have collected tokens and a number also remain in private hands. Thanks to the efforts of Timothy Millett and other researchers, we know the identity of convicts associated with approximately 80 of the tokens in the collection. The Museum has a continuing program of research into the collection, which aims to identify further associations and links to particular individuals.