Wednesday, August 12, 2015

An Intricate Love Token from 18thc. New England

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Isabella reporting,

Earlier this year I shared a charmingly hand-drawn and intricately folded love token, or puzzle purse, created in late 18thc. Pennsylvania by a now unknown German-American. Called a liebesbrief, or love-letter, the watercolor token was folded in a complicated manner that made it as much a puzzle as a letter.

This week a very similar love token, left, appeared on the Houghton Library blog as a new acquisition for their collection. As with the Pennsylvania German liebesbrief, the identity of the creator of this piece has been lost beyond his initials: E.W. He was apparently a rejected suitor who created the token for his beloved, hoping she'd reconsider his marriage proposal. There's no word as to whether his ink and watercolor plea changed her mind, but I like to think that the token's survival over two hundred shows that she preserved the token - and said yes.

I won't paraphrase Houghton's blog post, written by our friend curator John Overholt. You can read it here, plus see more images and a gif of the token unfolding. But I thought it was fascinating that the two pieces - one created in Pennsylvania, and the other in New England -  were so similar both in their design, and their emotion. No matter the medium, love will always find a voice.

Above: Love Token, maker unknown, late 18thc. New England. Houghton Library, Harvard University.


Ken D. Pees said...

TO The History Girls,
My day will be a good one after reading about love tokens. Thanks very much. Our family possesses one but which is much more simple in its making. I email to thank you for the German word of it. We are 8th generation German farmers - every generation being farmers and landowners plus carrying the same spelling of our surname since 1713. Thank you for the wonderful text and photo and the German word. In Ohio, we are the Pees family.

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