Suffragette Defaced Coins,
Edward VII & Queen Victoria Penny Coins. 1903-1918 A social media meme
A meme, as first defined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, is 'an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture'. Our most common contemporary interpretation of a meme is often seen in their ongoing recurrence within the technologies of social media, arguably the single most efficient means of cultural contagion of our time.
Theses defaced protest coins made by the Suffragettes show us that a meme can become embedded in many kinds of social technologies, and is not only accommodated by our recently networked world. An early 20th century campaign to deface the coinage of the kingdom with the simple message 'VOTES FOR WOMEN' was an act of strategic genius, in that it used a media format with an inherent property of widespread circulation to disseminate a critical message that has since changed the course of modern history.