Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Unique Valentine Ephemera and a Giveaway

by Anita Mae Draper

Ephemera refers to paper material like tickets, coupons, pamphlets, calling cards, and others that were printed for an event or purpose that was meant to be short-lived, but were often kept as mementos and souvenirs. Personal bank notes fall into this category and it was a delight to find one from the BANK OF TRUE LOVE printed in Philadelphia c1852.

Valentine in form of a bank note. Philadelphia c. 1852. Library of Congress, Public Domain
Along with exquisite artistry, the bank note is, "Secured by the whole stock of Truth, Honour, and Affection." It offers, "The Token of Friendship" as well as the "State of Matrimony." And promises, " pay to _____ on demand the homage and never failing devotion of sincere affection." It is signed by "Cash'r, Cupid, Prest (the cashier, Cupid, President). 

Other unique Valentine ephemera fall into the illustrated letter category of which rebus is one form. Rebus is the representation of a word or phrase using suggested pictures, symbols, etc. and was also known as hieroglyphics around the turn of the 19th into the 20th century due to the Egyptian discoveries being made at that time. This type of puzzle has been around for centuries although it didn't reach it's usage peak until greeting cards and postcards became a normal part of life.

A Farmer's Love Letter, Mrs. Stella Gilbert, 1909

Another type of Valentine greeting card used words or letters arranged in a puzzle to profess their love, if only the receiver could decipher the message. This one, entitled, The Old Fancy, took me several minutes before I caught a phrase that gave me the key to unlock it.

The Old Fancy, Jessie Shepherd, artist, c1888. Library of Congress, Public Domain

Today, most valentine gifts are flowers, stuffed animals, candy and chocolate. Although these are precious to receive, they can't always be kept as mementos. The interest in sending Valentine's Day cards is waning, yet they are the easiest ephemera to keep because they don't require much space...unless, of course, you're an ephemera collector. 

Giveaway of one new signed copy of the printed book, The Secret Admirer Romance Collection, to one person who leaves their email address in the comments of this post. Deadline to enter is Feb 5, 2020 at midnight PST.

Rebus decipher: Do you carrot all for me, my heart beets for you and my love is as soft as a squash, but as strong as an onion. For you are a peach, with your radish hair and your turnip nose. You are the apple of my eye and if we cantaloupe then lettuce marry anyhow, for I know we would make a happy pear

The Old Fancy decipher:  I am in love as thou mayst see, I love but one and that is thee. Read down and up and thou shall't find the way to read thy valentine.

Anita Mae Draper lives on the Canadian prairies where she uses her experience and love of history to enhance her stories of yesteryear's romance with realism and faith. Readers can enrich their story experience with visual references by checking Anita's Pinterest boards. All links available on her website at


  1. That was fun! The puzzle I did not solve at all without your help, and then I thought how simple! That was a really good puzzle. I hope the recipient solved it as you did!! Thanks for the post!

    1. You're very welcome, Connie. I'm glad you played along. :)

  2. Loved your post! Thank you for sharing!
    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Thanks for letting me know, Melanie. Got you entered. :)

  3. Thank you for your wonderful post!

    1. You've very welcome, Caryl. Love your email address. :)

  4. I love the farmer's love letter! So clever!

    colorvibrant at gmail dot com

  5. Heidi, that's my favorite one as well. I was stuck on the cantaloupe though and had to look at the answer because I couldn't fit 'melon' in with the rest. Slapped my head when I saw the answer. LOL

    You're entered. :)

  6. I like the personal bank note.

  7. Using, I have a winner for my giveaway... and the free signed print copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection is going out to...

    Heidi Reads!

    Congratulations, Heidi. Keep an eye out for an email from me.

    Thanks for playing along everyone.