Valentine's Day Token of Love
Valentine's Day Token of Love
Here are classic examples of love tokens down the ages.
Here we have an interesting and curious 18th century love token. We know that author is John Abbott but all that we know about his beloved is that her initials are SW and she is his 'Sweet Turtle Dove' dating from the 18th Century.
Will and Guy made these folding cubes in our youth, but we never created anything as beautiful as John Abbott's love token.
With patience and not a little luck, it is possible to fold the love token into a polygon in such a way as to reveal a love poem.
This is what John Abbott's love poem says to his 'Sweet Turtle Dove', incidentally doves were symbolic of fidelity as they mate for life.
In this inside sweet Turtle Dove
On the outside - Front
Sweet Love this Heart when you behold
Inside - Front
The farther we fly the faster we tye
But Cupid with his fatal Dart
Inside - Center
If you deny my Loving Bride to be
So then pale death my Rosey bloom must end
You are my Dear the Girl and only
My meaning is an Matrimonial Joy
The gift of John Abbott
A lasting Legacy of 500-year-old Love
Love it or hate it, even the most hardened anti-Romeo will be hard pressed to avoid Valentine's Day this year.
Here is a letter which is on show at the British Library. It is a letter, written from a young woman to her love, and is the first mention of the word Valentine in the English language.
The letter shows they were no different to us. They had the same loves, desires and financial problems.
In 1477 Margery wrote a letter to her John pleading with him not to give her up, despite her parents' refusal to increase her dowry.
Addressing her 'ryght welebeloued Voluntyne' (right well-beloved Valentine), she promised to be a good wife, adding, 'Yf that ye loffe me as Itryste verely that ye do ye will not leffe me" ' (If you love me, I trust.. you will not leave me).
While romantics 534 years later might celebrate Valentine's Day with fine dining, chocolates and flowers, Margery is left pleading with her love not to leave her while pledging her heart over all 'earthly things'.
She promises her undying love, 'Myne herte me bydds ever more to love yowe truly' (My heart me bids ever more to love you truly), and speaks of her ailing body and heart over her fiance's continuing silence.
However, modern-day lovers be reassured, like any self-respecting fairytale romance the heart did rule the head and, despite her father's stubbornness over her dowry, Margery did marry her knight and the couple had a son, William, in 1479. Margery died in 1495, John in 1503.
While her letter is also written on paper, there is one key difference. She didn't write it herself we have learned. It would have been dictated to a man who would have written it for her. However, says Julian Harrison, curator, 'The fact that she isn't writing the letter doesn't mean she can't write, it means she can afford someone to write for her. People have assumed that people in the past were illiterate, but actually levels of literacy may have been higher than we think.'
A marvellous tale with which to celebrate Valentine's Day.
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