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Antique Treen Love Tokens

Valentine’s Day can be traced back as far as Roman times, but it wasnt It wasn't until the 1600's that Valentine's day as a holiday really took off. Sending flowers as a Valentine's gift began in the early 1700s when King Charles II of Sweden brought the Persian poetical language of flowers to Europe By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.

In 1797 a booklet was published titled ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ which listed romantic verses which could be copied out and sent to their sweethearts. With the introduction of printers ,mass produced cards with verses were available and the Victorians took full advantage of sending them anonymously via the postal service. So much so that postal workers were given special meal allowances to sustain them in the frenzied lead up to the day where thousands of cards were sent. Not

all cards were of the romantic type some were of the vinegar variety spurning peoples love or attention.

There are many different antique treen items which were made as love tokens or for marriage gifts.Here are a few examples.

Image 1 below is a carved snuff box in the shape of a small bellows with brass pique work to the front "Forget Me Not'. It has a sliding lid to the reverse.

Image 2 and 3 are a wooden stay busk with the name Mary Jay and dated 1777. These were often given as love tokens and would be worn inside the dress inserted into the front of the stay, now known as a corset, to keep the stomach flattened. They would have been very uncomfortable.

Images 4 and 5 are of Folk Art knitting sheaths both have carved hearts to them. Image 4 is an unusual example of an antique treen knitting sheath with a name date and location. The name Mary Wilson, Low Farm, Durham is carved on the back of the sheath and on the front is the date 1819. It is carved with diamonds, crosses and a heart. Initial research couldn't find a Wilson living at Low Farm Durham, it was probably a small holding. There was however a lady who was born in Sunderland in 1802, baptised in Januart 1803 and married in February 1819 to a Mathew Wilson. He was a farmer who does appear on the 1841 Durham Census.

Image 6 is a bellows snuff box with a combined pricker. Note the bone inlaid heart.

Image 7 and 8 are a Welsh Lovespoon with the classic Welsh symbols of a roundel, key hole to unlock the heart or home and the heart.

Images 9-12 are of a fabulously carved layette or linen tray. Layette means a set of clothing and bed clothes for a newborn child. No doubt it was used for linen for the household.

Beautifully chip carved throughout with roundels. Note the cut out hearts to each side and to help with carrying it. Dating from the mid 1700s.

It measures 33cm w x 52.5cm x 8.5cm h.


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