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Vinegar Valentine

A face that would stop a clock

The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection houses the Richard August Neubert Antique Valentine Collection. This valentine collection holds over 650 valentines dating from 1838 up to the 1980’s. Many of these valentines are beautiful, intricate cards, but the collection also includes caricatured comic valentines complete with cruel verses, known as vinegar valentines.

Vinegar valentines were first produced in America around the 1840s. Many of these humorous insult cards only cost a penny to purchase which helped them gain popularity with children and adults alike. Most of these valentines were sent anonymously, with many of them targeted at women, balding men, and certain professions such as artists and surgeons. These valentines were usually produced on a single sheet of paper with an unattractive caricature illustration and usually four to six lines of poetry mocking the recipient.

If you are interested in viewing the Richard August Neubert Antique Valentine Collection or the vinegar valentines, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library and Archives or contact Ellen Ruffin at ellen.ruffin@usm.edu or 601.266.6543. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Leah Rials, Digitization Specialist