A Puzzle Purse with Love Token

Created by Sarah Evans


This is an unusual example of a Georgian puzzle purse. These were often created by young ladies to be gifted as  Valentines. The puzzle purse is decorated with watercolour pansies and forms the centre of this Valentine; it is skillfully folded to conceal a secret reward or love token for the recipient in the form of a beautiful spray of brown hair held with two tiny seed pearls.How wonderful that this has been preserved through the generations.

A handwritten verse runs around the puzzle purse and reads:

Where’er dear friend thy footsteps stray
In this dark world of pain & woe
May heavenly truths unerring ray
Illume and guide thy path below;
Whate’er thy future lot may be
May all of earthly bliss be thine.
But that’s not all I wish for thee
A Kingdom & a crown divine.

This has been adapted from a poem entitled ‘The Farewell’ by E.P. that appeared in The European Magazine & London Review published in 1824. A circular garland of colourful flowers encloses the verse. Unusually for a valentine the artist has added her name at the foot of the page – Sarah Evans. This though is currently concealed by the frame.

The Valentine is painted in watercolour on paper. It has age browning as evidenced by the colour of the paper within the puzzle purse when opened. There are also five small wormholes about four o’clock and a small closed tear to one flap of the purse but these are not intrusive and are minor flaws in such a fabulous and unique piece.

The Valentine resides in a befitting period painted pine frame.

Item Ref. 5731

Size: framed, 280 x 280mm (11 x 11")