Friday, February 14, 2014

My Materialistic Valentine

Ah, Valentine’s Day--when we think of scarlet hearts, succulent candy, and stolen kisses.  We’ve talked in the past about how popular the day was in the nineteenth century, with posts on celebrations, the art of penning love poems, and watching for the letter carrier.  As I went looking for inspiration for today’s post, however, I found another sort of Valentine, one purportedly dating from 1849.  It seems that master of British caricature, George Cruikshank, poked a little fun at the day in this valentine:

The gentleman sending this particular note wants to make sure his lady love knows what she’ll be getting should she marry him.  Oh, he’s young, rich, and handsome, good-tempered and well-educated.  That goes without saying (although he isn’t so humble that he doesn’t say it).  That’s not what distinguishes him from other suitors.  He’s willing to lay it all on the line for love.  Here’s what he’s offering:

  • Unlimited bonnets and dresses
  • 300 pounds of pin money a year (pin money was a lady’s spending money.  Note that at this time, a person could live frugally in London on around 150 pounds a year.)
  • Smuggled French gloves and perfume to spare
  • A splendid set of jewels
  • A box at the opera
  • Champagne and cheesecake (interesting combination!)
  • A grand piano
  • Annual trips to Europe
  • A handsome carriage
  • A townhouse and a country house.
Be still my beating heart!  What lady could possibly refuse?

Me, for one.  If I had to think about marriage materialistically in the nineteenth century, I’d add a few items to the list:

  • A large library and sufficient funds to keep expanding it
  • My own study adjoining said library
  • Escort to all literary functions of my choosing
  • Annual subscription to the Royal Society presentations on the latest advancements in science.
What about you?  Any materialistic items you’d advise your valentine to consider before proposing?


Kleidung um 1800 said...

Very interesting insight into the past...and highly amusing, too!
Thank you very much for sharing.


Regina Scott said...

You're welcome, Sabine! When I saw it, I knew it had to be featured in a post. :-)

QNPoohBear said...

Some things never change! My Valentine had best have a well stocked library and dogs.

Regina Scott said...

Dogs! Oh course! Good call, QNPoohBear.

Regina Scott said...

Um, that would of "Of course." Sorry! Visiting family and typing on a strange and very old computer. :-)