lover's eyes

In the 18th and 19th centuries, wealthy British and European lovers exchanged “eye miniatures” — love tokens so clandestine that even now, in the majority of cases, it is impossible to identify their recipients or the people they depict.
Experts believe that there are fewer than 1,000 “lover’s eyes” in existence today. 
Apparently, they were meant to be worn inside the lapel, near the heart. Damn romantic. 

I discovered these just a few weeks ago in The Met's Gallery 754 (one of my favorite parts of the new American Wing - all portrait miniatures). I'd love to see the show in Birmingham

More at Salon + a fascinating slideshow.

Lover's Eyes locket. Watercolor on ivory with gold case, ca. 1840.