Much like the subject of our last post – the commonplace book – the best scrapbook is a mixum gatherum of all kinds of wonderful items. This being the season of leurve, we have selected a little early Victorian Valentine card for today’s post which is to be found in an enormous scrapbook of the O’Reilly family of Cavan (MS 3396). The person compiling the scrapbook was an archivist’s dream (but a conservator’s nightmare (what with all the glue and sellotape and folding and creasing)). Most of the material in the book was intended to record the family pedigree as proud descendants of the Gaelic princes of Brefni but the book’s compiler couldn’t bring himself to reject anything which could fill in an otherwise blank patch on a page. So, along with the seventeenth-century leases, and the extracts from ancient Irish annals, there are pictures of babies; children’s music and drama; there’s a tiny 1840 schoolboy’s diary; a wedding breakfast menu printed on satin and this lovely little early Victorian Valentine card. The compiler’s lack of interest in the distaff side of the family means that, although all of the men in all of the pictures are carefully identified by name and dates, this little card with its message of devotion could be from one of a number of Elizabeths/Bessys in the family.
Although physically this early Victorian Valentine card looks like it was home-made, our keen-eyed photographer pointed out the little stamp on the paper indicating that it was in fact produced by E. Rimmel, the precursor of the present-day cosmetic company.