Miss Mary Whistler

A Cobweb Valentine


By the Queen of Love I swear
To be constant to my Dear:
To my Mary shall my love,
Ever true and faithful prove:
Then say my fair thou art mine
On this the morn of Valentine.

Thus opens the wonderful hand-written and painted Valentine that was sent to Mary Whistler around 1816. The central flower opens like a cobweb to reveal a sweet little watercolour of a lovebird flying off to deliver the Valentine to lucky Mary.

Sometimes known as beehives or flower cages, cobwebs are a rare example of a movable Valentine. Cut in delicate concentric circles with an attached string, the cobweb has then been pasted on to the larger sheet with a secret message for the recipient hidden inside.

The (2-page) Valentine was folded and addressed to Miss Mary Whistler in Basingstoke, Hants. The embossed paper is watermarked Dobbs / 1816 and stamped Dobbs Patent on the bottom edge. The lack of a postmark suggests the Valentine was hand-delivered. Mary must have really treasured it as it has survived so well. There are some discreet tape repairs to the reverse side of the address page with small losses along the fold lines and to one edge. The first page has just one small tape repair on the reverse side and remains in remarkably good condition.

Item Ref. 7002