[n.p. ca. 1895]. Printed in color with caricatures mocking the appearance and character of three working women. With captions in verse. Some creasing and a few small open tears to edges. Two sheets reinforced with document tape on versos. A few stains to “Made-Up Saleslady.” Pencil signatures of Clementine Allen to rectos of “Gossiping Wash-Lady” and “Made-Up Saleslady,” plus pencil inscription on verso of the former (“To Clementine, from Lloyd, 1895”) and date (1895) on verso of the latter. A very good set of these fragile “vinegar valentines.”. Three leaves (two sized 7” x 10”, one sized 6 ” x 11 ”). Item #16961
These insulting valentines, commonly referred to as vinegar valentines or penny dreadfuls (sharing the nickname with Victorian-era dime novels), first appeared in the 1840s and maintained a prominent place in pop culture well into the twentieth century. They were produced from the cheapest paper and were designed to be sent anonymously; the inscriptions in the present set, however, beg the question of whether Clementine sent a vinegar valentine to Lloyd in return. Vinegar valentines were “designed to caricature the shortcomings of the recipient and encapsulate the spirit of the Victorian era…During the 1920s and 1930s, they were very popular among schoolboys who were more than happy to give their cranky teacher, their grouchy neighbor and bullish schoolgirls. Every trade or profession was represented in terms far from flattering, including politicians…Vinegar valentines reflected the spirit of the times between the late 1800s to 1920s with rising taxes, wartime, and the women’s suffrage movement.”.
Made-Up Saleslady” reads, “unto your help you’ve summoned / The toilette’s false, deceptive aid. / If in your purpose you succeed, / and some poor sucker capture, / When the moment comes to size you up, / Oh! won’t his state be rapture?” Thompson, Hope. “Vicious, Rude and Crude.” Unmasked History Magazine (February 2021).