The notion of a lady’s feminine virtues was a prevailing theme throughout the Victorian age. Associating these virtues with aspects of a gentle woman’s toilette was a fancy conveyed in an elaborate 1885 gift book published by Eleanor Talbot, MY LADY'S CASKET OF JEWELS AND FLOWERS FOR HER ADORNING. The idea was conceived much earlier however as evidenced by this piece of English ephemera from the 1840’s or 50’s, “The requisite Contents of a Lady’s Dressing Case—Without these Articles none can be Complete”.
This card, designed like a valentine on embossed paper lace with a thin pink paper inset behind, was printed by F. Passmore, 124 Cheapside and entered at Stationer’s Hall In London. No date. Eighteen flaps sit in the center. Each flap lists an item from the dressing table--cold cream, best eyewater, pomade divine, lip salve, etc. Lift the flap and underneath we see the cosmetic is related to some virtue or moral quality--truth, purity, modesty, sincerity.
The card measures 6 7/8” x 4 5/8”. It is in very good condition for its age but has overall toning and foxing on the front and back. The lower left hand back corner is folded. Because the cover script is difficult to read, I have included a paper on the back of the card with the text. Please examine the photos and feel free to email me if you have any questions.
This is the only example of a paper lace "Lady’s Casket" I have ever seen or found in any reference. I don’t think it is one of a kind because F. Passmore registered his design, but I do believe it is very rare. It would make a superb addition to one’s valentine or other Victorian collection of ephemera. Thank you for visiting my shop today.
19thc Hidden Message Valentine - Lady's Casket