During the Regency Period the sending of Valentines was already a popular practice. Lovely handmade cards were created for lovers and friends and could be extraordinarily elaborate. The British Postal Museum and Archive houses two such cards, one a delicate black and white cut-out of a trellis with greenery bearing a love poem and dated 1790. Another, seen below, is a "puzzle purse," also dated 1790. This handcrafted paper puzzle opens to reveal poetic verses and artwork. The front of the card reads: “My dear the Heart which you behold, Will break when you the same unfold, Even so my heart with lovesick pain, Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”
Another puzzle purse, also seen below, is dated February 14, 1816 and is a gorgeous example of this art form. Not only does it reveal the heart of the sender through its tender words and with images which themselves tell a story, but it is an example of the skillset for which women of this era were prized, namely drawing, watercolor, design, poetry and penmanship. It is both a tribute to love and to the artistry of the sender and is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is to commemorate the 200th anniversary of this exquisite puzzle purse card and to celebrate the artistic accomplishments of the women behind these creations, that the Jane Austen Pen Pal Club has chosen to sponsor its first Valentine Verse Challenge.
Happy Valentine's Day, Janeites!
The Jane Austen Pen Pal Club congratulates the winner of the
"The Jane Austen Valentine Verse Challenge"
Go to the Jane Austen Small Press "Writers Page" for Lori Demeter's winning verse,
and thank you for participating!
Images (c) 2007 Nancy Rosin
Reprinted with the permission of Nancy Rosin, President, National Valentine Collectors Association
. Jane Austen Quill Correspondence Set
One Grand Prize Winner will receive the lovely correspondence set below.
The Valentine verses of the top five finalists will be posted on our Writers' Pages along with the winning entry.
Choose an unlikely pair (e.g. Miss Bingley and Mr. Darcy or Mary Bennet and Mr. Collins) from any one of Jane Austen's novels or pair up two characters from different Austen novels and create Valentine verses from each to the other. These may be sincere and heartfelt or they may take as their model the cheeky "vinegar" Valentines also popular in Austen's day. We will choose six to be published on the Jane Austen Pen Pal Club website and one Grand Prize Winner will receive the beautiful writing set below. Please submit your entry via the Contact page on this site.
Entries must be submitted by February 10, 2016.
Below,the poetic verse as it appears in the center square on the reverse side of the previous image.