Double cobweb valentine with Venetian scene, Anonymous (British, 19th century), Lithograph, watercolor on openwork cameo-embossed paper

Double cobweb valentine with Venetian scene

Anonymous (British, 19th century)
Lithograph, watercolor on openwork cameo-embossed paper
Sheet: 9 3/8 × 7 1/2 in. (23.8 × 19 cm)
Ephemera, Prints, Ornament & Architecture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Richard Riddell, 1981
Accession Number:
Not on view
Quarto, recto only, embossing of makers’ name is not seen, but the paper is attributed to BURKE. The frame border is openwork, cameo-embossed lace paper. The single sheet has damage to three corners.

See 1981.1136.533 for a similar applied image, same watermark, and similar workmanship.

A central hand-colored lithograph is an applied image of a romantic Venetian scene -- a romantic gondola - doves perched atop -- is drawn across the canal by a cherub and a dolphin -- while a Cupid holding Hymen's torch -- symbolic of matrimony, stands on the deck. A bridge and a cathedral complete the picture.

Poetry is lithographed above and below the central picture, and clusters of blossoms have been hand-colored: pansies and convolvulus above, and roses and forget-me-nots below.

The center of the applied image has been hand-cut into a RARE DOUBLE COBWEB -- the outer one at 7.5 mm diameter, and within it, another, smaller one at approximately 4 mm. Within the cobweb is a colored lithograph of a gentleman helping a lady disembark from a boat, and being guided by Cupid to the Altar of Love, while another flies above, carrying Hymen's flaming torch.
The cobweb is also referred to as a beehive, a birdcage, and a flower cage. It was a popular device in which to carry a secret message or even a love token or ring. When a fine thread is gently pulled, the concentric circles of the cut device rise into a mound, and an interior image may be viewed from the side view. This may also be called a mechanical or movable Valentine.
Inscription: "If from the pangs of loves disease you pine/ And need the succour of 'love's medicine'/

And if for me these pangs of love you feel/ As I for you -- and as I thus reveal,/

Behold that heart which cupid bears above,/ Take it fair maid its healing virtues prove./

And in return my fairest Valentine,/ A cure for me I pray you send me thine."

Marking: Watermark: WOODHULL

In pencil, verso Schatzki, 1959 $20. (a shop in NYC)
Mrs. Richard Riddell; Donor: Mrs. Richard Riddell
Ruth Webb Lee A History of Valentines. Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, 1952, fig. no. 145, p. 175.

Frank Staff The Valentines & its Origins. 1969, fig. no. 95, p. 75.