Tag Archives: Cupid

Paper Lace Frills Give Cupid Chills: 1917


To Give a Girl a Valentine, One Really Ought to Own a Mine

Margaret Mason

“Oh Valentine, wilt thou be mine?”

“Indeed I will” said she,

“If you can prove you’ll be a mine

Of gold and jewels for me.”

New York, Feb. 9

Alas! Poor little Dan Cupid is trailing his rosy wings in the dust. He leans sad and discouraged on his quiver with a quiver of his under lip. Since munition millionaires are buying up hearts of rubies and scarves of Point de Venise to present to their fair Valentines this February 14th, Cupid feels red satin hearts and paper lace frills won’t have a chance.

Oh, where are the paper lace and tinsel valentines of yesterday? The hand-painted satin hearts, pierced with gilded darts, all amorously inscribed with some choice and burning sentiment fresh from a passionate poet’s pen. They are in the dust heap of the Gods along with the broken vows, shattered hearts and withered flowers.

The modern maid is educated up to more expensive love tokens. She insists that the tinsel of her valentine be at least 14 karat, if not 22. Her paper lace must be real lace and any hearts coming her way must be shiny jeweled ones instead of shiny satin. There are all sorts of heart shaped jewel boxes too ranging from gold, silver and carved ivory, down to equally effective and less expensive enamel, lacquer, brass, ivorine, and pewter. If you sent one of these with this telling little sentiment borrowed from one of William Winter’s poems:

“I send you, dear, an empty heart

But send it from a very full one.”

You cannot fail to win the gratified adoration of your Valentine lady.

Nephrite frame by Faberge.

Nephrite frame by Faberge.

If you have the face to do it a heart shaped picture frame of silver or colored leather makes a picturesque valentine and there are heart shaped crystal vials of perfume rare, fit for the most fastidious of noses. Love often smiles on one who exchanges dollars for scents.

To bag a heart with a heart-shaped bag would seem to be a popular sport this February 14, for the varieties of valentine bags offered is most bewildering. There are sewing bags and bags for anything at all.

The most elaborate, ornate, and expensive of the valentine tokens I have glimpsed is a heart shaped brooch of rubies pierced by an arrow of platinum from whose point drips a drop of ruby gore. The nicest St. Valentine gift, I think, is a hand-carved old gilt and blue wood frame enshrining the photograph of The-Only-Man-in-the-World. And I think what a practical and useful gift for next year it will be so easy to change the photograph for another of the 1918 or more current Only-Man-in-the-World.

Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 9 February 1917: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The escalating expense of St Valentine’s Day has always been a point of controversy.  Victorian gentleman complained of elaborate valentines costing more than a labourer’s monthly wages. Will the Beloved be satisfied with something cheap and whimsical or must the gift be royally lavish? There is much at stake.

Jewellery is somewhat more problematic. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they rarely achieve their resale value at auction. One of the most poignant sights in the world is the gold cigarette case or bracelet in an auction catalogue engraved, “Yours Forever,” “Eternal Love, Pookie,” or some other sentimentally inaccurate inscription. Mrs Daffodil’s advice is to suggest that one’s lover invest in items of precious metal. A photograph should be framed, at the very least, sterling silver, so that if the current Only-Man-in-the-World objects to a souvenir of his predecessor, the article can be pawned with profit.

Of course, if one is the owner of a mine or munitions factory or if one is Queen, cost is no object:

There are three great makers [of Valentines in England]: Rimmel, Dean and Goodall. Rimmel is the famous perfumer, and his goods waft their fragrance far and wide and turn, nasally speaking, thousands of dirty post-office pigeon-holes into Araby the blest. Messrs Dean claim to have produced the most costly valentine ever made. This was executed to the order of the Queen, and was a marvel of the illuminator’s art, being also further enriched by feather flowers of the most exquisite description. These encircled some lines of poetry by the late Prince Consort, and the valentine was sent to the Prince of Wales on his eighteenth birthday. Its cost has not been divulged, on the principle, no doubt, that “the unknown is always wonderful.”

Springfield [MA] Republican 24 March 1873: p. 8

One has a strong suspicion that the Prince of Wales would have preferred a trip to Paris or a racing horse for his stable.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


The Elopement Bureau: 1908

A party of bridegrooms who have eloped in the “Cupid” paying their respects to the car.

A party of bridegrooms who have eloped in the “Cupid” paying their respects to the car.


A Bureau of Elopement Operated by a French Woman.

There has been a regular epidemic of mysterious elopements in Paris during the past six months. Every guard which stern parents have put about their infatuated daughters has been broken down and piff! In a twinkling loving couples have been whisked away to conjugal happiness, carried off apparently on the wings of Cupid.

Indeed, Cupid has played a most practical and effective part in these runaway marriages, but it is a Cupid of rubber tires, shining wheels, and powerful motor power, it’s a Cupid with the speed of Mercury—in short, it is the latest make of racing automobile.

This speeding car has become as well known in France as in the Little Church Around the Corner in this country.

For a long while all that could be wrested from runaway couples was the statement that they had been married in the “Cupid Car.” What the Cupid Car was or where it was to be found they declined to reveal to any but those whose hearts were torn by “the cruelty of opposing parents.”

Somehow the secret leaked out, as even the deepest mysteries will in time, and lo, there is in Paris, a perfectly equipped elopement bureau with a polished and charming Parisienne in charge—a regular fairy godmother she is to the elopers—and her splendid garage is a much sought port in the rough ocean of true love.


This elegant garage is a regular Jekyll and Hyde establishment, for besides providing means of escape to young couples it also supplies enraged parents with high speed cars in which to follow. But these latter lack a few horse power of the speed of the former, and—but that is a long story and must be told briefly in tis proper place, after the tale of the Cupid.

Mlle. Bob Walters, who Keeps the Elopement Office.

Mlle. Bob Walters, who Keeps the Elopement Office.

Mlle. Bob Walters is known in Paris as the owner of one of the finest garages in the French capital, and many races have been won by her machines.

She will show you frankly every nook and corner of her establishment, and then as soon as your back is turned will press a button, glide through a hole in the wall and gesticulate wildly to a frightened couple awaiting her. She has just allayed the suspicions of an irate parent, and is now ready to send the lover son the road to the Mayor.

Behind this sliding panel there is a powerful touring car—a perfect beauty, always in the pink of condition, and ready to start on the wildest race over the hardest roads at a moment’s notice—it is the “Cupid.”

All about this car are suitcases, small trunks, parasols, umbrellas, heavy boots, dainty shoes, rain-coats and top-coats, caps and travelling hats, closets containing fine lingerie and boxes filled with every imaginable kind of accessories, filmy veils, powder-puffs, bottles of perfume, boxes of sachets, and even little packages of beauty patches.

In an adjoining room there is every facility for putting up a hasty lunch, and here there are guide-books and time-tables, hotel directories and road-maps. In short, nothing has been forgotten by Mile. Bob, as she is called, which would add to the comfort of the couples who come to her for aid in their love affairs.

Sometimes she receives word weeks ahead that her Cupid will be desired on such and such a date, then the matter of wardrobe, route, etc., can all be attended to with leisure, but more frequently the couples run into her garage, breathless and incoherently plead for speedy first aid. Then all Mademoiselle’s ingenuity is roused, and she soothes, assures and plans as she gives orders and bustles about fitting out the bride with finery which hasty flight has obliged her to leave behind. She has the route laid out, the honeymoon planned, a telegram sent to the mayor or parson, rooms at a distant hotel secured, a substantial lunch packed, Cupid run out, Jacques, the chauffeur, equipped, a dainty maid to act as necessary witness instructed, and all four packed into the double-seated car, with the luggage in the tonneau and honk, honk and another elopement is on!

After about an hour’s respite mademoiselle’s services may be again called for —this time in the outer garage. Monsieur, very red of face, very damp of brow, and very fierce of temper, dashes into the garage so innocently famous for its speedy motor carriages, and excitedly implores mademoiselle to bring out her best car and put her cleverest chauffeur at the wheel. Mademoiselle is all solicitude; she hopes that monsieur has not had bad news. She prays that her car may be of assistance, and little by little, as she again gives orders and bustles about, she learns the father’s side of the elopement story.

She may not willfully lead him astray as to the road to take; indeed, she earnestly asserts that she often helps a little—not enough to cause trouble—in this direction. And who can blame her if Cupid is many horse-power superior to any other car in her garage, or if the lovers have a full two hours’ start of “papa “? Surely not the eloping couple. And so her business grows. Cupid is constantly changing his colour and his number. Even his trimmings are renewed about once a fortnight, so that although Mlle. Bob’s garage is famous throughout Paris among sportsmen, and has a fame of a different order among a number of happily-married young people, as yet the Cupid has not been “spotted.” To have the car become familiar would be to materially injure the value of this strange elopement office. Mlle. is growing so rich in worldly goods that she anticipates the day when she can equip the Cupid and launch matrimonial barks without thought of material compensation.

The Strand Magazine, Vol. 35, 1908

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Elopements were not always the sole purview of a dewy-eyed maiden and her handsome, yet impoverished suitor, formerly a clerk in Papa’s office or a coachman in his stable. Those in the bonds of matrimony also slipped the “old ball and chain,” as a spouse is sometimes quaintly called.

Happy Man Wants Wife to Stay Eloped; Tells People Other Fellow Was Stung.

Wilkesbarre, Pa., June 4. Wearing a sheepish grin, George H. Charles, who said he lived in Scranton, walked into the police station here to-night and said he was looking around for his wife, who he thought had eloped with a neighbor.

“You might ask your men to watch out for them,” he said to the sergeant in charge.

“Sure we will,” replied the sergeant, reaching for his book. “What does she look like?”

“She don’t look like anything I can think of right now,” said Charles. “She is five feet, eleven inches tall and weighs 100 pounds. There are two teeth out in front, but that don’t bother her much. She squints in her left eye and the right is a kind of a dark purple shade as a result of a little argument in our family. The little hair of her own and all that she has bought is a carroty red. I might say that up to the present she has never won any beauty prizes.

“All right,” said the sergeant. “We will arrest her if we see her, but why do you want her back?”

“Want her back! I don’t want her back, and I don’t want her arrested. I have been trying for five years to wish her onto someone and now that she has gone, I want her to stay. Tell your men if they see her to say that I have reported the elopement and that may frighten them so they will go so far away they can’t get back. I certainly hope she will stay eloped. That fellow who ran away with her sure was stung.” The Weekly Messenger [St. Martinsville, LA] 17 June 1911: p. 4

Mlle. Bob Walter (this seems to be the correct spelling) was also a danseuse in the vein of Loïe Fuller and famous for her “serpentine dance,” among her other  startling achievements as a lion tamer and racing-car driver. This piece, which includes more photographs, gives an admirable summary of what is known about the lady.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


A Love-Haunted Chamber: 1901




All Who Sleep Within Its Walls Succumb to His Power

A Cure for Celibacy.

A love-haunted chamber is something new in spook lore, and it is a departure from conventional stories of the weird and eerie to encounter an experience in which the god of love, wreathed in smiles and soft blandishments, takes the place of sheet-shrouded wraith or horrid specter.

There is a certain mansion near Washington that possesses a haunted apartment, which, however, instead of being shunned by visitors is eagerly sought by the young and sometimes designedly inhabited by persons of uncertain age, but, like Barkis, willin’. For it is whispered through the country around that if an unmarried person but stay overnight in this room matrimonial prospects will soon thereafter be manifest, and if the sleeper be inclined that way, will take definite shape and eventuate at the altar. Indeed, there are stories of the potency of the charm that hovers about the room going further and enthralling unwilling captives or those who unwittingly and with no thought of love have risked themselves within its magic portals.

It is a large and cheery room, beautifully decorated in blue and gold and rose, with rose-tinted curtains and carpet. On one wall is a panel bearing a painting of Cupid leading a maid through a tangle of roses, she half-hesitating yet half eagerly following her guide. On the opposite wall another Cupid beckons an Apollo, who, nothing loath, presses joyously onward. The room was once the bower of a young girl, the pride of the countryside and the light of that household, who, before Cupid could rivet the silk-incased chains he was winding about her, was called away.

For a long time he room was closed and remained just as she had left it. Then, after a period, when the hospitable old house again opened its doors, and one night when there was a press of company, the daughter’s room was given over to occupancy by a guest. It happened that this guest was a maiden relative whom the gods had punished for her early scorning of their offers by withholding opportunities until anxiety had begun to take the place of indifference. All unconscious of what was in store for her, she laid herself between the lavender-scented linen of the mahogany bed, and before blowing out the candle by the bedside admired the decoration of the walls and noted the harmonious scheme that was worked out in the Cupids rioting in the carving of the footboard.

All thorough the night she was half aware of delightful dreams. The Cupids from the walls and the carvings seemed to be busy about her bedside with garlands and ropes of flowers, and throughout their weaving game the Apollo on the wall appeared to be active and to stand out in a strange, soft radiance of light. Next day she laughingly told her story, and when a week later she departed, lo, she carried with her the heart and offer of the hand of a member of the party.

The next coincidence was connected with the visit of a hardened bachelor, whom a prayerful mother had wished for years to see safely in the leading strings of some good woman. This scornful wretch openly flouted the story of the love-haunted room, and defiantly offered to sleep within it, betting a basket of France’s best vintage that he would come off unscathed by Cupid’s arrows. With mock ceremony he was escorted to the haunted chamber, and left by his host with an earnest wish for a safe night and sound sleep.

The visitor noted that the bed was between the two panels, and he moved it beneath the panel of Apollo and Cupid, in a very spirit of bravado, as if to dare them to do their worst. Then he blew out the candle and was soon snoring most unromantically, as the result of the day’s hard hunting. What happened before morning he would never tell. Sure it was, however, that he was disturbed enough to cut his visit short and leave, being ashamed not to sleep in the room again, and the family would never have known the result of the experiment if the hostess had not a month later received a letter from the aforesaid prayerful mother, in which she declared how thankful she was that her beloved John would be married before New Year to a woman noted for her piety and strong qualities of mind.

There were other strange coincidences connected with the room that winter, and when spring came the mansion was fairly beset with visitors. Oddly enough, many of them sought to occupy the room. Some, by shameless strategy, professing incredulity in the charm and a disposition to defy it, when all knew ‘twas but eagerness to reap the beneficent magic. So were other schemes employed to entrap unsuspecting and guileless young men into the fatal circle, they never knowing why fate had so swiftly overtaken them.

Beneath the bay window of the love-haunted room is an old-fashioned garden, with an arbor and seats therein, and it is said that as the summer waxed the charm of the room would extend to the garden, and on moonlight nights, when the dew sparkled and heliotrope and lilac gave off their fragrance, the couples would slip away from the verandas and the dimly lit parlor to wander together along its walks.

It was dangerous for single men, however successfully they had avoided the traps and pitfalls set by designing mammas and crafty papas up to that time, to venture into these mystic shades to smoke a bed-time cigar, and now the confirmed old bachelors and the hardened old maids will never attend house parties in that mansion unless assured beforehand that there are rooms in plenty and that no one of them will be bedded in Cupid’s chamber.

The Evening Star [Washington DC] 21 December 1901: p. 19

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Art has always held the power to inspire love. Yet Mrs Daffodil has some doubts about the strict veracity of this item. Although the location is described as in a private house, it seems to have more visitors than the average home–or is that merely the famed Virginia hospitality? Said mansion is unnamed, but the detailed description of the murals in the fateful chamber hints that some real location is being depicted. There is a suspicion that this could have been a puff-piece for a resort wishing to draw more customers.

Mrs Daffodil is reminded of the claims for “Doctor” Graham’s “Celestial Bed,” at the Temple of Health in London, where the young person who later became Lady Hamilton, made her debut. Just as match-making services advertise their marriage statistics, this establishment should have been held to account. Two confirmed engagements is scarcely an adequate sample.

Yet, who knew that celibacy was a condition that needed curing? Pretty murals and erotic dreams may have tipped the balance, but Mrs Daffodil is not sanguine about a “hardened bachelor” donning the silk-incased chains with a lady of such strong mind and piety.

Mrs Daffodil has chosen the topic of tomorrow’s Valentine holiday for her theme today. For a more relevant story on how the Thirteen Club celebrated Friday the 13th, please see this post.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.