St Valentines Day | Cambridge Imprint
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St Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day approacheth. Once the phase of life in which you might conceivably receive a card from an unknown yet eligible admirer is safely past—which is to say, disappointment is behind you—this becomes quite a sweet holiday. There is a feature in World of Interiors this month about these beautiful paper cut-outs, which are a small sample of the hundreds that were hand made by Mrs Elizabeth Cobbold of Ipswich in the first decades of the nineteenth century and sent out as invitations to her annual St. Valentine’s Day Ball.

Mrs Cobbold made about 60 designs a year, each cut from a doubled piece of paper so that there were two copies of each. At the end of the Ball, all the ones for girls were put in one hat and all the ones for boys were put in another. Each person drew out a picture and the boy and girl who drew the same picture were officially a St. Valentine’s couple, decided by fate.

The designs are extraordinarily intricate and imaginative. There are a lot of masked revellers and dancers, as you would expect, and also bows and ribbons, quivers and arrows, bowers of roses, cherubs: but also pagodas, lobsters, beehives, baskets, a jester a devil and a witch… there seems to have been no limit to her inventiveness. After reading this article we feel that perhaps our Valentine’s Day card, which we had been so pleased with, is slightly tame, with its rather predictable pair of birds. Next year, perhaps something more out of left-field.