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Puzzle Purse Valentine, c.1790

Royal Mail / 11 February 2016

This Valentine is known as 'puzzle purse' or courtship envelope - similar to paper fortune tellers today. The puzzle is to unfold it in the right way to reveal the hidden verses.

We've created a special customisable version for you to send this Valentine’s Day, downloadable HERE

On the outside it reads “My Dear the heart which you behold... Will break when you the same unfold... Even so my heart with love sick pain... Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”

Other messages are revealed when the sheet is fully opened; written at 90 degree rotations around the sheet of paper:

My dearest dear and blest divine
I've pictured here thy heart's sign
But Cupid with his fatal dart
hath deeply wounded my poor heart
And has betwixt us set a cross
Which makes me lament my loss
But now I hope when this is gone
That our two hearts will join in one' and '1st
You are my dear the girl and only maid
That wholy [sic] hath my yielding heart betray'd
The thoughts of you are always in my mind
So be not cruel nor prove to me unkind

For never will my heart have any ease
Untill [sic] our two hearts are joind [sic] & link'd like these
My meaning is in matrimony Joy
Which to for Seak [sic] my happiness destroy

If you deny my loving bride to be
you then bereave me of my felicity
By reasons of the troubles of my mind
I yet may love and yet no comfort find

So then pale Death must be my fatal friend
And bring my grief and sorrow to an End
After a mournfull [sic] time of sad despair
Occasioned by the frowns of you my dear'.

There is a message in the centre when the paper is unfolded:

'In this inside sweet Turtle Dove
I've wrote a moral of my love
To the my dear and only Joy
Requite me now and be not coy
Banish my rival from your sight
And with your love now me requite
Cupid's my guide and does my hand di-rect
To write to you whom I so much respect
You are my dear, the centre of my Joy
It's your absence my happiness destroy
It's you alone to whom I now do write
That charms my heart and ravishes my sight
So now the powers of envy can't pretend
To say that I false stories to you send'.

See other historic Valentine’s Day cards


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