Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saint Valentine's Day

Christmas is done, spring seems far-off and the frigid Illinois landscape has grown steadily drearier. Over at Babbitt's, we're preparing a month or two of mid-winter cleaning. Soon we'll be purging our storage site of old and obsolete books and replacing them with slow-selling, in-store titles in order to make room for our wealth of summer and autumn acquisitions. In the bustle of this rearrangement, I stumbled across some vintage treasures. And wouldn't you know it? They dispelled a little bit of the winter gloominess.

Can't make out what you're looking at?

They're die-cut, chromolithograph Valentines, from the late Victorian to early Edwardian era. The ones that we have on display behind our counter are three-dimensional and, as you can see above, quite intricate. Although they're rife with typical Victorian sentimentality--saccharine children, scads of flowers and doves galore--there's still something attractive about them.

They fall under the category of what we booksellers refer to as "ephemera." Ephemera is a broad category that includes any paper object that was meant to be thrown away. Letters, stamps, ticket stubs, magazines, menus, sheet music, posters, postcards, pamphlets, playbills, pin-ups . . . all of these count as ephemera. A fraction of our ephemera collection is for sale in the store, but most of it is online and stored off-site. Type in ephemera into our website's search page and you'll come up with a massive 12,287+ hits.

You won't find any of these Valentines listed online, but you're welcome to come see them in person. If you're forward-thinking, you might even buy one! Most have a small gift inscription on them, but if you'd like to re-gift one, a small paper label or some white-out will do the trick. Prices range from $15 for smaller Valentines and $25 for larger ones. If you think these are out of your price range, we have dozens more vintage Valentines from the 1920s through the 1950s at $1, $2, and $3 apiece.

See? Just a dollar.

As always, we're open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. This is the slowest time of year for us and we'd love to see you. And really, is there anything cosier than browsing in a warm bookstore on a cold winter's day? Don't forget that we also have a four-month-old kitten who is always in need of playmates!

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful! I saw them in person (er, in paper?) yesterday!!