Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Puzzle Purse 1840s-1850s

Puzzle Purse 1:

Friendship's Wish

No rubies on the Indian shore,
Outshine thy noble mind;
Its radiance far excels them all,
And blesses humankind.

A heart of heavenly purity,
Is laid within thy breast;
And ever, for the weary soul,
It breathes some tone of rest.

5" x 5" opened
More text within card
circa 1840s-1850s
no publisher's parks
Heart Shaped Puzzle Purse

3 internal layers

Puzzle purse style valentine cards were often handmade and square shaped in the 18th century. This heart shaped 19th century version is professionally printed with hand painted detailing on the front and back cover pieces. Our scans are only possible because this card has endured some minor damage. The thread at the bottom point of the heart that can be seen in the images of the hand-tinted covers would normally prevent the interior pages from laying flat. While this damage is unfortunate and does affect the card's value, it at least lets us take a more careful look at the interior printing. This card's rarity and advanced age mean that even with its faults it is quite a valuable find. 

Puzzle Purse 2:

The earlier 18th century versions are even more rarely to be found offered for sale. These cards generally reside in the collections of museums or in the famous collections held by the Hallmark company, Norcross, etc. Many of these well known collections in the USA got their start when what remained of the enormous holdings of famed collector and card creator Jonathan King were split up and sold in the late 1950s. Despite King's location in England, a great many - perhaps even the majority - of his cards made their way to the States as Valentine's Day has enjoyed much greater sustained popularity here than in his home country. The Hallmark Historical Collection contains the largest portion of what was sold, having been purchased by the writer Carroll Alton Means and then either gifted or sold to the company.

The hearts that form the front and back of this puzzle purse can also be found as flats, folders and even wall hanging type cards. All are very old and quite hard to come by. The printing and hand painted detailing style is very similar to some small printed cards that can be found bearing the name "Howland." I have examples of these posted in the Esther Howland entry although it is possible they may be more properly credited to S. A. Howland, the printer, stationer, and father of Esther Howland, who was active in his craft before his daughter's famous valentine ventures.

Hope should pleasure at its birth
Fade like the hues of even,
Turn thou away from earth, -
There's rest for thee in heaven.

2 5/8" x 2 1/2" closed
5" x 5" opened
More text within card
circa 1840s-1850s
no publisher's parks
Heart Shaped Puzzle Purse


Barbra Johnson, Ph.D. - Valentines A Collector's Guide, Collector Books, 2011
Frank Staff - The Valentine and Its Origins, Frederick A. Praeger, 1969

No comments:

Post a Comment