A Penny to Remember


Junior Fiction/Historical Fiction


National Museum of Australia

A spoon can change your life. Escaping through a pantry window with a silver spoon stuffed into his pocket, George can’t imagine what his future holds.

When George is sentenced to seven years’ hard labour in Van Diemen’s Land his only thoughts are of his sister Hannah. What can he give her to remember him when he is so far away?

A Penny to Remember is a title in the National Museum’s series of historical fiction Making Tracks. Making Tracks takes young readers on a fictional journey through some fascinating Australian stories, inspired by objects from the National Museum of Australia’s collection.

The ‘object’ that inspired A Penny to Remember was a convict love token. Between 1788 and 1850, the English sent over 162,000 convicts to Australia. Many Australians can find a convict in their family tree. Love tokens were made by or for convicts before they were sent to the other side of the world. The convicts would beat a penny until its surface was smooth and then carve a message on it for someone they loved.

My great-great-great-grandfather, John Mills, was a teenage convict who was sent to Port Arthur to serve seven years hard labour. It was exciting to be able to use details from his story to make A Penny to Remember more personal.