Metallic Double Cobweb Valentine

Anonymous, British, 19th century
Lithograph, watercolor, metallic paper on embossed paper
Sheet: 9 1/16 × 7 5/16 in. (23 × 18.5 cm)
Ephemera, Prints, Ornament & Architecture
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Richard Riddell, 1981
Accession Number:
Not on view
A rare DOUBLE COBWEB is applied to the center of this ADDENBROOKE paper. The paper has an open-work cameo-embossed design, invented by Addenbrooke in 1834. The cobweb device applied to the center is actually two separate ones, one machine cut from golden paper, and another, machine cut of silver paper. The silver one is applied on top of the gold one, so that when the tasseled thread attached to the top, center, is gently pulled, two images appear, one beneath the other. The top image is a hand-colored lithograph of a woman with butterfly wings -- a fairy? -- holding a bouquet. The second image shows a man standing behind a seated woman -- he appears to be looking at a locket in his right hand.

Surrounding the cobweb device - 6.5 cm in diameter -- is, below, painted red swags of fabric, and above, a delicate painted floral garland suspended by a silver Dresden die-cut of a dove with an envelope in its' beak. Known as a Cobweb, a Beehive, a Flower Cage, or a Birdcage, it was a delightful kind of paper engineering, and was a popular moveable device. The flowers have symbolic meanings, as in The Language of Flowers. The paper is quite toned and spotted.

Inscription: Handwritten poetry inside:

"Abroad, at home, no matter when or where,/ Delighted friends rejoice you(r) voice to hear;/ Among the throng, there's none to you incline,/ More than the writer -- Your own Valentine./

Marking: Watermark WHATMAN 1845
Mrs. Richard Riddell; Donor: Mrs. Richard Riddell