History and serendipity

One thing I enjoy about being a history enthusiast is the way it seems to promote serendipity.

Recently my partner who loves all things historical, antique and collectible started watching the UKTV show Trading History. This show tells the stories behind auctions of historical artefacts.

Knowing my interest in colonial Australia, my partner told me about the episode that featured Timothy Millett and the auctioning of his 307 convict love tokens. Timothy, a coin dealer, started the collection in 1984 when a valued customer sold him 70 tokens. Intrigued by the poignancy of these keepsakes, Timothy continued to build his collection. He also started to research the history of those named on the tokens. Reluctance to acknowledge convict forebears, however, made this difficult.

In 2008 Timothy decided the time had come to sell his collection. All 307 tokens were bought by an Australian museum. This seemed to be just where they should be, but which museum had them?

Then while doing some idling googling I found them. They were acquired by the National Museum of Australia. My local museum, and now I discover holder of the largest collection of convict love tokens in the world. Serendipity plus.

Do you agree an enthusiasm for history seems to make for a lot of serendipitous moments?

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The National Museum of Victoria, 1876


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