Kevin F. Kelly, bookseller ††† phone: (845) 419-5090 ††† books@kevinkellybookseller.com

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A Collection of Mock Valentines
London, circa 1830. Half leather and marbled paper over boards (5” x 7.5”); 5 raised bands comprising 6 compartments with gilt-stamped lettering and fleur-de-lis; unpaginated (approx. pp. 100), with twenty-four hand colored plates. A curious collection, seemingly culled from three rather scarce sources: “The New London Fashionable Gentleman’s Valentine Writer” and “Richardson’s New Fashionable Lady’s Valentine Writer; or, Cupid’s Festival of Love,” both published in Derby by Thomas Richardson and Son, and “Collection of Mock Valentines” from an unknown publisher – all published circa 1830-1840. The original wraps for the Richardson publications are bound in, with different cover illustrations for the Ladies and the Gents, and in different colors (a green and a blue Gents, a green and a blue Ladies), and all with different ads printed on the verso – so possibly coming from multiple different copies of the Richardson’s publications (which ran from 1828 to 1843, and sold for a penny). The “Collection of Mock Valentines” is identified only by its illustrated title-page, relaying no more information than the title and “circa 1830.” All three sources are bound shuffled together in a random, though coherent, order.

The Richardson’s publications – on different and slightly smaller paper than the mock collection – offer a selection of Valentines and answers. Valentine poems from a tradesman, a person of rank, a gentleman, or from “any one in great or humble circumstances” (and more) are addressed to a clerk, a lady that is fond of singing, a milliner, “a gentleman not remarkable for erudition” (and more) – and all are met with answers of compliance or rejection. They range from the sweet to the silly, they are sometimes blunt, sometimes rude, sometimes careful, always witty.

“Collection of Mock Valentines” features 24 hand coloredillustrated poems in varying typefaces, with some handwritten (in lovely, calligraphic script). A wonderful opportunity to relish the rude, these address the less attractive walks of life – fat ladies, people who won’t shut up, shrews, dandies, peeping toms, hen-peckers, conceited little barbers, knaves, brutes, bad singers, and more. It’s mysterious in its variations (one wonders at the authorship, the differing poetic styles, the differing types), and a delightful celebration of how much Valentine’s Day can be a let down.

$1450

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Kevin F. Kelly, bookseller ††† phone: (845) 419-5090 ††† books@kevinkellybookseller.com