Lot 601
  • 601

Rare watercolor and cut gilt paper heart and hand love tokens Probably New England, circa 1820

6,000 - 8,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Watercolor and ink with gilt paper on cut and pinpricked paper, mounted on paper
  • 9 1/4 by 14 1/8 in.
  • C. 1820


Howard and Jean Lipman, Wilton, Connecticut
Sotheby Parke-Bernet, "The Howard and Jean Lipman Collection of Important American Folk Art & Painted Furniture," November 14, 1981, lot 88


"Compass: Folk Art in Four Directions," New York, The South Street Seaport Museum, June 20-October 7, 2012


Kogan, Lee, and Barbara Cate, Treasures of Folk Art: Museum of American Folk Art, New York: Abbeville Press in association with the American Folk Art Museum, 1994, p. 132
Schaffner, Cynthia V.A., and Susan Klein, Folk Hearts: A Celebration of the Heart Motif in American Folk Art, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984, p. 94
American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum, p. 270, fig. 229

Catalogue Note

Love tokens, often mistakenly called valentines, were given in affection on days other than February 14. In this exuberant example, fifteen hearts and six heart-and-hand motifs are applied in horizontal rows to a sheet of paper. Most of the twenty-one elements use pin work to create a lacy effect as well as woven strips of paper in an interlacing technique suggestive of love never ending. The heart-and-hand is generally associated with love or friendship and probably originated from Valentine's Day customs. In one tradition, a man gave a woman the gift of a glove, which she then wore in acceptance of his proffered love. In another, a woman gave a man her glove, which he then wore pinned to his sleeve for the duration of the day. The well-known phrase "wearing your heart on your sleeve" derives from this custom. -S.C.H.