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Love tokens

An arrow shaped steel brooch, 1875 - 1895, SJ31

An arrow shaped steel brooch, 1875 - 1895, SJ31

What are you hoping to receieve this Valentine’s Day?  A rose?  A card?  Maybe a cute teddy bear? Or a piece of jewellery, like this brooch which reminds me of Cupids arrow, perhaps if you’re very lucky!

Saint Valentine’s Day is celebrated worldwide; for instance Mexican people usually line the streets with flowers, streamers etc, it is a festival for all to enjoy, whether single or attached.  They say “Dia de san Valentin”, which translates in to English as Happy Valentine’s Day.  The most highly desired gift in Mexico on Valentine’s day is a hand-crafted heart made of roses.

Enamelled patch box, EM317

Enamelled patch box, EM317

Lovers have always sent each other gifts, but what you might have receievd in the 1800s would probably be quite different to what we give today.  Historically items such as hand-made cards, pillows, sweets, postcards, hand sewn gifts and poetry were popular items to send between loved ones.

This 18th century patch box, decorated with the words “I Love You” was clearly made and sold for the giver to send to a loved one, possibly for Valentine’s Day.  Typical images associated with Valentine’s Day are of Cupid (often signified by his arrow), love birds, couples, hearts, the colour red and roses.  There is a pair of lovebirds on this patch box for instance.

Cupid has long been synonymous with romance and love; Cupid is the son of Mercury, the winged messenger to the Gods and Venus the Goddess of Love, and although he is portrayed as mischievous in Greek Mythology this is easily forgotten when St. Valentine’s Day comes around.

This very pretty pin cushion has an endearing story attached to it.  It was made by a soldier who was in the Lancashire Fusilliers and he sent to his sweetheart during the 1914-1918 Great War; its design is Victorian.  All the glass beads are removable pins and written on the side of it is this:

Heart pin cushion, 1914-1918

Heart pin cushion, 1914-1918

Think of me
When the golden sun is sinking
And your mind from care set free
When of others you are thinking
Will you sometimes think of me.

You can see displays that include items like the enamel patch box above at Bantock House Museum in Wolverhampton, Bilston Craft Gallery and Dudley Museum and Art Gallery.

Bantock House Museum and Bilston Craft Gallery also have displays of cut steel jewellery like the brooch above.  The Victorian pin cushion is currently in storage at Wednesbury Museum.

You can see more images of museum objects that are linked to love and romance on our Flickr photostream

Please leave your comments below, you can also follow us on Twitter @BCMuseums.

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