[Valentines:] Accept this little pledge of love, / And love’s request obey… [opening lines of broadside or printer’s proof sheet]

Fascinating broadside of Valentine sentiments, printing over 275 poetical quatrains and couplets of romantic love in very small type. Cupid, damsels, “lovely Venus,” future wives, and bachelors abounding.

The random short poems are printed in columns on the sheet, without titles. They were not imposed by the printer, however, for folding and binding into a book or pamphlet. Were these sentiments of love printed with the intention of cutting them apart to make Valentine cards? Or was their use for parlor games of romantic fortune, popular in the antebellum period?

Authorship of the verses is not credited. They poems range in quality of writing, suggesting they were possibly drawn from multiple sources, some possibly original to the broadside. A search for the source of the first verse, to give one example, reveals that it was published in The Bower of Love; or, The Compleat Valentine Writer ([London], 1830): “Accept this little pledge of love,  /  And love’s request obey;  /  And ever kind and constant prove, From this auspicious day.”

The broadside may have been printed in Philadelphia. This is suggested by the couplet “You are the sweetest girl, my Kitty,  /  In all this Philadelphia city.” There is even evidence of a typographical mistake being corrected, while still in the press, by the addition of bracketed notations in the margin: “That man true dignity will find,  /  Who tries the matrimonial estate, {3d line}  /  Who pours contempt on woman kind, {2d line}  /  Will mourn his folly when too late.”

Verses are written from the perspective of both male and female Valentine senders; some are sentimental, others more comic or teasing, more “vinegar Valentine”-like. Some examples:

•  To chaff with a belle I like very well,  /  But to marry I’m not quite so hasty,  /  As well as unfurl both ringlet and curl,  /  My wife must learn to make pastry.
•  Loves and Doves! Cupids and Darts!  /  Rings and Kisses and Bleeding Hearts!
•  What a pitiful set these poor bachelors are?  /  Every person of taste must allow;  /  And to kiss one—believe me, I’d rather by far,  /  Give a buss to my mammy’s old cow.
•  Such eyes as thine in the olden time /  May well have made their owner quake,  /  For sorcery was thought a crime, // And witchcraft punished at the stake.
•  My mamma scolds, because I give so many kisses;  /  But really it is all in vain—I vow’d to be a Mrs.
•  To make a pudding, darn a stocking, and to wash,  /  Will be the fate of her that marries me—by gosh!
•  I am one of Temperance’s daughters,  /  And use health’s refreshing waters,  /  But repudiate quite the vine,  /  With all who quaff its maddening wine.
• I bow to thine almighty gold,  /  In homage love and duty,  /  ‘Tis strange that one so very old /  Should capture by his beauty—(booty)?

An engaging and intriguing Valentine broadside and very unusual.

Description: [Valentines:] Accept this little pledge of love, / And love’s request obey… [opening lines of broadside or printer’s proof sheet]

[Philadelphia?: np, c.1840s–1860s?]. Broadside or Printer’s Proof. Approx. 23¾ x 18 inches. Printed in six columns. Folds; creasing; some old inexpert tape mends on verso; some staining and foxing; good.


Price: $350.00

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