Sold Archive

Valentine Puzzle Purse

Late 18th Century

These Valentine puzzle purses are always a joy to find and a privilege to handle. This evocative example has been drawn in pen and brown ink by a hopeful young man to send to his girl. It is inscribed with verses that are gradually revealed as the folds are opened up in sequence. With a central heart motif the introductory verse reads:

This Heart my Dear which you Behold
Will break when you these Leaves unfold
Even so my Heart with Lovesick pain
Sore wounded is and breaks in twain.

Inside there are further heart-rending lines around a drawing of the lovers’ two hearts pierced by Cupid’s arrow. Delving deeper inside, the writer poignantly declares:

You are the girl the only maid that has my tender heart betrayed
Nor Ever shall my heart have ease Untill our hearts are formed like these …
If you Refuse to be Wife it will bereave Me of my Life
Pale death at last must stand my friend and bring my sorrow to an End.

The back panel shows a delightful turtle dove symbolising love and friendship with a final verse.

These Valentines are always fragile and this one is no exception. It has been drawn on laid paper with a Britannia watermark. The paper has some age-browning and there are small holes and short tears at the intersections of the fold lines with some discreet tape repairs.

Item Ref. 4860

Size: folded, 110mm (4⅜") ; unfolded: 315mm (12⅜") square (ish!)