Australiana, Convict Love Token – likely of the First Fleet, convict Robert Nunn, neatly engraved on a Georgian Half Penny (27.5mm). Obverse: “I hope the hart that now is free will think of that witch Pants for Liberty” above two hearts, the right pierced by an arrow. Reverse: “Sweet Innocence I pray the take this trifling Peice and keep it for my sake – Robt Ninn to Nancey Baynes”.
Research indicates that there were two ‘Robert Nunn’s transported as convicts, one on the ‘Scarborough’ in 1787 and another on the ‘Susan’ in 1837. Although no attributing date or words are written on this particular token, two major elements indicate it is the former Robert of the First Fleet. Foremost, the quality of the engraving, the design, and the type of language are typical of 18th century Great Britain; the later tokens tended to employ stippling and with more expressive designs. Secondly is the host coin, this token is engraved over a half penny of King George III, the only copper coin of the 18th century with enough surface area for this purpose – the farthing was far too small, and the penny was still a small silver coin until the inception of the cartwheel types of 1797. With these points in mind, I am compelled to presume that this particular Token is attributed to the earlier Robert Nunn of the 18th Century.
Following the conclusion of the American War of Independence in 1783, the newly formed United States would refuse to accept further convicts, causing Britain to lose its thirteen colonies across North America. With the ever growing need to alleviate the jailing system, preparations were made to establish new penal colonies elsewhere – specifically, in a land recently claimed for Great Britain by the explorer James cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770. At the cost of £84,000, a fleet of 11 ships were outfitted and despatched, consisting of two Naval escorts, 6 Convict Transporters, and 3 Food and Supply Transporters, and would thereafter be known as The First Fleet. Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet would embark from Portsmouth, England on the 13th of May of 1787 bound for New South Wales, and ready to commence the British colonization of Australia.
Robert Nunn was convicted for an unrecorded crime at Middlesex Gaol Delivery, and, although given a relatively minor sentence of 7 years, would be transported to the new penal colony of Australia. Nunn embarked aboard the ‘Scarborough’, a double-decked, three-masted barque and the second largest convict transporting vessel of The First Fleet. The ‘Scarborough’ was mastered by Captain John Marshall, a British Explorer and the namesake of the ‘Marshall Islands’, who commanded the 208 male convicts aboard. They arrived at Botany Bay on the 19th of January 1788.
Very little is known of Robert Nunn’s experiences aboard the ‘Scarborough’, however witness accounts are quite interesting. Shortly after departing England, as recounted by John Easty, private marine 55th Company onboard, two convicts, Philip Farrell and Thomas Griffiths, were suspected of an attempted mutiny; they were apprehended and received 24 lashes each after being moved to the ‘Sirius’ – it is possible Robert Nunn participated in this potential takeover and received a lesser discipline. Easty also reported that upon the ship’s arrival, the crew saw a great many ‘Indians’ on Point Salander, N.S.W., who “came down to the shore and shouted at us and held their weapons over their heads and shaked them at us”.
A Very Rare Piece of Australiana. Some minor green and scratches on obverse.