London’s Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, which opened in 1739 and was London’s first home for abandoned children.
When babies were left there, mothers usually left tokens and small objects such as coins, jewelry, buttons and other items – even something as simple as a playing card or a nut – which could later be used as identification should someone want to reclaim the child.
Some children were later reunited with their mothers, but thousands weren’t – and the tokens linked to many of those unclaimed children still remain in the Foundling Museum’s collection.
In a exhibition titled Fate, Hope & Charity some of the tokens left with babies between 1741 and 1760 are on display, along with the stories of the foundlings they were connected to.
(Photos courtesy of London’s Foundling Museum)