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Cupid's annual Charter; or St. Valentine's - VALENTINE.] - 1810. 
London: Published by W. Perks [c. 1810]. - 8vo., pp. 24, with a hand-coloured engraved frontispiece of two lovers under a tree; a fine copy, uncut, bound, preserving the original printed blue drab paper wrappers, in later half blue calf and floral cloth.First and only edition of an attractive early commercial 'valentine writer', comprising sixty-five sample verse Valentines and Answers, and a coloured frontispiece. An innovation of the late eighteenth century, such chapbooks were designed to be dismantled the frontispiece used as a card, and the chosen verses copied out by hand. 'Valentine writers' were deliberately undated so that unsold copies could be reused year after year. Perks was at 21 St. Martin's Lane from about 1810, and published at least one other such work, The Turtle Dove; or Cupid's Artillery levelled at human Hearts, being a new and original Valentine Writer, by Sarah Wilkinson.Here a wide potential market is catered for, with Valentines 'To an Old Maid', 'with a Book', 'From a Sailor', 'To a Prude' etc. The Answers are both positive and negative, often amusingly so; young ladies, for example, are provided with the following reply to a Valentine 'To a Coquette': 'I did receive your valentine / Your hints are very free, / Nor do I think the character, / At all belongs to me'. The mildly risqué elements of some of the verses are exploited in the frontispiece, where the rural lovers are surrounded by emblems of successful harvest, and, at the foot, an unabashedly phallic quiver of arrows.It was during the first half of the nineteenth century that Valentine's Day, a long-standing occasion for the gallant exchange of verses and gifts, evolved into the substantial commercial industry that it is today. Publishers of Valentine chapbooks such as Perks were among the first to use cheap mass-printing to exploit mankind's desire to express love with as little personal inconvenience as possible. Two hundred years (and counting) of tacky cards would follow. Language: English
[Bookseller: Bernard Quaritch Ltd ABA ILAB]
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