Back to top

A blacksmith stands at his anvil, using a hammer and tongs. His face is dirty and he is smoking a pipe. The valentine suggests that the smith's trade will prepare him for Hell in the afterlife., Text: A sketch of your visage, so ugly and cross, / Here behold, Mr. Blacksmith, of botches the Boss. / It can’t be disputed a wise choice you made, / When you took for a calling your black, sooty trade ; / For ‘tis well ere you die to get used to things hot, / In view of what surely will then be your lot., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Blundering little hussy
A short and stout country bumpkin smiles and carries a pitchfork. The sender rejects the recipient's romantic advances because of his occupation., Text: Blundering little hussy, who can never move about, / But furniture and tea trays are all put to the rout ; / It's all your foolish vanity because you wil be seen, / When about your work, dressed in a crinoline : / Pray leave off your hoops and gain a little sense, / And then to gain a husband you may make some pretence., "No. 186", Provenance: Helfand, William H..

A Brainless Jackass.
A man with an oversized bald head smiles broadly. The text indicates that his baldness is an outward sign of his inner deficiencies., Text: You have got a great big head, but it’s only filled with air. / It hasn’t enough of substance to produce a growth of hair. / You’ve got a smile upon your face, but we have heard before, / You get it from a bottle when you sneak behind the door. / You’re only an old milk sop, and of either sense or wit, / No one will e’er accuse you of having the smallest bit., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Come, stand erect.
A bent-backed carpenter is using a plane. His pants are mended with a patch and his nose is red and dripping. A saw, chisel, hammer and other tools are on the floor of his shop., Text: Come, stand erect and plain away, my beau of sawdust, chips and shavings, / St. Valentine’s, that happy day, is hastening round to ease your ravings; / Then don’t be downcast, see above, a sketch I’ve made of your sweet features / Then come and wed, with love for love, we’ll prove to all, we’re Cupid’s Creatures., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Dear mam you're ugly
An older woman sits at a table, eating a large piece of meat. A monkey is sitting on the back of her chair., Text: Dear mam you’re ugly cross and old, / An errant vixen and a scold, / So that betwixt us I’m afraid: / You’re doomed to live and die a maid, / For since your age is sixty-nine, / You cannot be my Valentine., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

A Dough-head.
A young man sits in a chair., Text: You sleepy headed numskull, go home and take a snooze, / When you go to see the girls, they think you’re full of booze. / As vain as any weather-cock, you know not how to talk, / Nor can you take a slight hint, when you’re told it’s time to walk. / You ought to be a baker’s boy, for now wherever you go, / The girls all laugh at such a calf, and say your head is dough., Provenance: McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896, collector.

Hurra! for the races
A sailor sits cross-legged and holds scissors. A large cabbage is visible under his seat. "Cabbage" refers to the cloth leftover after making a garment. "Goose" is a name for an iron, whose name comes from its goose-neck handle. "Nine mean agianst one" references the saying that nine tailors equal one man., Text: Hurra! For the Races, I’m off on my steed. / I’ll lift all the Sweepstakes when put to my speed. / Nine men against One, who would hope to eclipse / A Tailor who’s armed with tapes, yard stick & snips. / I’m sharp as my needle, and not to be done / Of my Cabbage which follows where ever I run. / Tho’ the thimble-rig fellows, may try to humbug, / I’ll shoulder my lap-board, and sit on my rug. / In defiance of all whether light laced or loose / Who objects to a Tailor for riding his Goose., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

I as soon would wed
A man wearing a coat decorated with braid carries a small animal. The valentine warns that his fancy attire will not attract a mate., Text: I as soon would wed a monkey, / As a saucy swaggering flunkey, / Who fancies that a gaudy coat, / Would make the ladies on him doat; / And thinks fine feathers fine birds make, / Though there he makes a great mistake, / For let his coat be e’er so fine, / No flunkey shall by my Valentine., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Man Crossed in Love
A man with a large heart-shaped head holds a portrait of a woman. His torso is also in the shape of a heart. The valentine suggests he drowns his sorrows in alcohol., Text: Dismal, doleful, in thy tears-- / You have not smiled for twenty years, / Except when gin bars were in sight, / And then you smiled both day and night! / Your face reminds one of a lizard-- / Your heart—you only have a gizzard-- / And as for ears, mankind can see / A donkey’s ears were put on thee! / To show you up, we’ll get some hay, / And let the neighbors hear you bray!, Provenance: Helfand, William H..

My First Cigar.
A thin young man vomits in an alley. He holds a burning cigar in one hand. "Valambrosa's leaves" is a reference to ""Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks / In Vallombrosa where Etrurian shades / High over-arch'd embower." in John Milton's "Paradise Lost.", Text: Vain, vapid youth, who, with cigar, / Upon the promenade a star / Of manhood would’st appear, / Think’st thou we know not what befalls, / When thou dost make such sudden calls / To by-ways dark and drear? / There, desperate qualms thy frame dismay / And tribute thou to earth dost pay / As Neptune oft receives, / When pale land-lubbers, reeling sick / Bestrews the waves with filth as thick / As “Valambrosa’s leaves.”, Provenance: Helfand, William H..

The Shirk.
A boy lies on his stomach with his heels in the air underneath a tree. The sun is high in the sky and a hoe is lying on the ground next to the boy, suggesting he is neglecting farming duties., Text: You are the biggest fraud on earth, / A lazy, loafing lout, / A big mistake was at your birth-- / Oh! That your ma was out! / Such shirks as you should be caught up, / And sent around the horn, / Or an inquest held on all of you, / Before you e’er were born-- / Oh! How we hope that some fine day, / You may dry up and blow away., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

A Sight to Make
A woman rides a bicycle. The Sun is visible in the background, wearing a wide smile. The valentine suggests the woman look ridiculous riding the bicycle., Text: The Sun in his daily journey / Must gaze on queer sights many, / But I’m sure that on your Cycle / Are quite as queer as any. / Absurd enough you were always / To take away folk’s breath, / But now there’s really danger / You’ll make them laugh to death., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Since You've Had Children
A man and a woman are seated, each holding a small child. The woman is wiping one child's rear end, while the second child is urinating on his father, who pinches his nose against the smell., Text: Since you’ve had children you’ve began / To be indeed an all-ter’d (TIED) man, / “How happy could I be with either, / Were the other young screamer away, / But while they both s—t me together, / From the stink I can’t get all the day., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Stable Keeper
A stablehand wears patched trousers and smokes a pipe. He carries a broom and is sweeping up after a horse. A pitchfork leans against the wall behind him., Text: Ugliest of the ostler crew, / Why do you make so much ado, / About the stable as you rush / Armed with curry-comb and brush? / The horses tremble with affright / When you approach them, day or night., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

Why you silly
A man holds a child and a soiled cloth. A woman from behind a curtain asks, "Haven't you changed tha child yet?" The man replies, "Yes my love, and now he wants his chair." The valentine mocks him for being ordered around by his wife and makes use of scatological humor., Text: Why you silly mawkish dandle / Type of henpeck’d Mr. Candle, /Who at spousy’s angry word / Tho’ not dead will be in-terred (turd,) /And like a sailor in a sloop, / Will find a place upon the poop, /Do you think I would incline, / To choose a stinking Valentine., Provenance: Helfand, William H..

You are an ill
A man in his night clothes carries a musket and a candle. He holds the candle up to shed light on a man who is hiding in the fireplace. In the background, his wife looks out from behind the door. The text suggests that if the lover continues his behavior, another husband will shoot him., Text: You are an ill conditioned sneak, / U[pon] every amourous freak, / For you have spent your wretched life / In seeking some one else's wife; / Behold what perhap may be your fate, / Carrying on at this sad rate; / Some angry husband may discover, / And blow out your brains my general lover., Provenance: McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896, collector.

You drink so
A thin man in top hat with a dripping nose drinks from a teapot. On the left, two rows of casks containing liquour are smiling. One of the casks is labeled "Uncle Tom." On the right, a water pump is depicted with a mournful face, since the drunkard prefers liquor to water. The text suggests that no woman would take a proposal from him seriously, since he is unable to provide even for her basic needs., Text: You drink so much that it is plain / You must have water on the brain, / Dost think that any girl would jump / At offer coming from a Pump, / Or that thou ought thou man of water / To have a wife, who can't sup-porter., Provenance: McAllister, John A. (John Allister), 1822-1896, collector.

You think, no doubt
A woman wearing a large and elaborate skirt sticks her nose in the air and carries a comically small parasol. The valentine chides her for having an inflated opinion of her own beauty and style., Text: You think, no doubt, you walk with grace, / With bustle of the largest space, / Covered with yards of costly lace. / And every time we chance to meet, / At party, theatre, or street, / You look so very sugar-sweet / But one who wears a dress so / Shall never be a wife of mine, / So seek another Valentine., Provenance: Helfand, William H..