Valentine to William Carson
On this Valentine’s Day, here is our most spectacular, and probably oldest (ca. 1850) appeal to the affections — in this case (we think) of one Mr. William Carson — from a “love sick Maid.” Measuring a full 12 inches in diameter, its verse begins on the outer edge with the lady’s decision to choose him “for my Vallentine,” then circles inward with dizzying entreaties to the gentleman not to “Refuse to be my love” — “for you are my chiefest hearts delight / you can my darkest hours make bright.”
As for all those handmade cutouts: There is Eight hearts Plain in your view / The ninth I lost when I saw you.
This valentine (and many more) can be found in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. Click here for a finding aid. For more, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.
The British diarist Charles Lamb noted that on Valentine’s Day 1830 “the weary two-penny postman sinks beneath a load of delicate embarrassments not his own.” The valentine card has steadfastly remained a cherished method of communicating one’s amorous affections for others. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentine cards will be sent this year, the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas.
On of the most cherished valentines in the Manuscripts and Folklife Archives section of the WKU Special Collections Library was sent from an unidentified suitor to Fannie Morton Bryan (1870-1965), an avowed flirt of Russeville, Kentucky. She often noted her flirting exploits in her diary. After receiving a lovely pair of sugar tongs from a Mr. Bradshaw in 1889, she wrote: “I am almost tempted to flirt with him. O Fan! Fan! Why can’t you behave yourself. Why do you want to make the boys suffer so? I try to help it but it seems second nature with me to make others suffer. I almost feel as though that was my mission on earth.”
The valentine pictured here was sent to Fannie in 1902, when she was well past the acceptable age for marriage. An image of a man dangling from a fishing pole line can be seen on the valentine’s right margin, and above it the sender wrote: “One of the victims.” The valentine proved apocryphal when it predicted “For flirts, whene’er their beauty fades, Recruit the army of Old Maids!” Despite Fannie’s prowress as a flirt in her younger days, she died an old maid. She taught school in Logan County until 1940 and passed away in 1965. To see a finding aid to the Fannie Morton Bryan Collection click here.