Hey! This is Allison and Miranda. We are new interns at the Kemerer Museum of Decorative Arts. Since it is Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share a little 19th century love from a Valentine dated from 1821.
Little is known about the sender, or the receiver, of this lovely puzzle purse Valentine, but we can still enjoy the sentiments it bestows. It seems he took a lot of time to create this elaborately folded and well decorated Valentine for this lucky girl, named Elizabeth Fry. As we read through his note, we found him to be a little persistent and confusing for a 21st century audience, so we thought we might translate it for you. His writing seems very dramatic to us, so we named him Mr. Drama. See for yourself…
“If you refu[s]e to be my wife it will deprive me of my LIFE/Pale death at last must stand my friend and bring my sorrow to an end/Thou art the girl and only maid that hath my tender heart BETRA[Y’]D/Nor never shall my heart have ease until our heart are joind like these.”
In other words:
“I can’t imagine living without you as my wife/Only death could ease this longing/You are the only girl I can’t seem to get over/And I will never really be happy until we’re together.”
…Mr. Drama again…
“To the fairest of the Female Sex I send an emblem of my love without an end crossing winding turning in and out Never ceasing turning round about as you see it links And turns here so does thy beauty prove to be snare therefore dear creature look with pity down and do not on A faithful servant frown But part on him that those thy love [are] and those delight thy beauty to admire And dear creature let your goodness shine beams of comfort from a passive mind so that the ravish’d soul raised by thy smiles may pass to rural bliss forgetting all its tails That true love may still in blissful action and evermore [belendind] into perfection then all the not love will be disdaind if you will constand prove. 1821.”
…back to 2012…
“Darling, I’m sending this note to show you how much I love you, A love that could keep us connected no matter what may happen, Your beauty has captured me, And as a friend I hope that you won’t disregard my feelings, But love me as you would love anyone who loves and admires you, so that, Honey, we can be together and I will no longer be tortured by your smile, So that our love will be blissful and perfect, ignoring all of the haters, as long as you are mine. 2012.”
Some of you may have participated in last February’s Valentine-themed Hunt for History and made one of these puzzle purse Valentines. We found links to directions on making puzzle purses, and Allison successfully made her own, which helped us to understand the order of Mr. Drama’s message. Here is the link for you to try it for your Valentine! (http://www.victoriantreasury.com/library/2007-01_Puzzle_Purses/, http://www.origami-resource-center.com/puzzle-purse-instructions.html)
Allison Shelley and Miranda Cooper are Moravian College seniors who are assisting the curatorial department here at Historic Bethlehem Partnership this spring.