[n.p. ca. 1895]. 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. It seems that Minnie Allen either had an anonymous critic or a friend with a brash sense of humor. Printed in color with a caricature mocking a woman wearing pants, a waistcoat, and a masculine hat and carrying a walking stick. Outfit is reminiscent of the dandy style exemplified by Oscar Wilde (another popular subject of rude caricatures). With caption in verse. Contemporary pencil signatures (Minnie Allen) to verso and blank recto. Remarkably clean and attractive. A very good, bright copy of a fragile item. One sheet. Some creasing. 7 in. x 9 in. Item #16991
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.”.
The verse reads: “Behold the figure you will cut / When in ‘New Woman’s’ togs you strut. / Fixed out like this in mannish suit, / Do you not think you’ll be a ‘bute’?” Thompson, Hope. “Vicious, Rude and Crude.” Unmasked History Magazine (February 2021).