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Children's Literature Collection
 
 

Juvenile Miscellany
Volume 24, Number 1 (Spring 1996)


 

THE RICHARD AUGUST NEUBERT ANTIQUE
VALENTINE COLLECTION

Cupids, hearts, laces, and love are but a few words that describe the de Grummond Collection's most recent acquisition. The Richard August Neubert Antique Valentine Collection came to us through the generosity of Mr. James G. Irby.

Richard August Neubert, a specialist in graphic arts, packaging design, and corporate and industrial design, was an avid collector of paper ephemera. His interest in decorative arts led him to collect antique valentines, a passion that he pursued for more than forty years. During that time, he assembled a fascinating collection of rare and beautiful valentines, primarily from the Victorian period.

Born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1917, Mr. Neubert grew up surrounded by his first, second, and third generation German extended family. Neubert served as a sergeant in the Pacific during World War II and was decorated by both the Philippine and the United States governments. After the war, he moved to Chicago, where he pursued his interest in the graphic arts. He worked for the Container Corporation and Sears, designing corporate programs for both American and Canadian companies. He later joined the industrial design firm, Dave Chapman, Inc., from which he retired in 1980. Mr. Neubert moved to Columbia, Mississippi in 1982, where he became active in community activities and continued to pursue his interest in the decorative arts. After a lengthy illness, Mr. Neubert died in 1991 at age 73.

Mr. Neubert's impressive collection contains more than 650 valentines, dating from 1838 to the 1980s, with many accompanied by original envelopes. Highlights of the collection include numerous pristine examples of embossed lace paper valentines manufactured from papers created by Joseph Addenbrooke; Thomas De La Rue; Dobbs, Kidd & Co.; Joseph Mansell; J.T. Wood; George Meek; and Mullord Bros. Also included are many cards created by two famous Americans, Esther Howland and George C. Whitney, who produced valentines using imported embossed and perforated blank papers from the aforementioned British firms. Other famous valentine makers whose work is featured include the New England Valentine Company, Jonathan King, George Kershaw & Son, Turner and Fisher, and David Mossman. Also held are valentines created by publishers well known for their early children's book production, including Dean & Son, Louis Prang, Ernest Nister, McLoughlin Bros., and Raphael Tuck & Sons.

All types of cards are present--shadowbox valentines and boxed valentines; mechanical cards from Germany, lift-the-flap, and "cobweb" designs; decorated letter sheets and large, single sheet, hand-colored lithographs; and the caricatured comic valentines, complete with cruel verses. Other outstanding examples are valentines from the Civil War era, designed for the fighting men to send home to their loved ones.

As a complement to the valentines, Mr. Neubert also collected valentine writers, very popular in both England and the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Valentine writers were books containing verses written in a variety of sentiments - romantic, serious, comic, and melodramatic - meant to be copied by those lacking in poetic skill. Of equal interest to the verses are the titles of the writers themselves; our holdings include Cupid's Annual Charter, The New Quizzical Valentine Writer, Richardson's New London Fashionable Gentleman's Valentine Writer, and Cupid's Album. The following verse from The True Lovers' Budget provides a sentimental example: "I lost my heart when last we met, and tis my firm belief / Twas you, my chosen Valentine, twas you that was the thief. / I do not wish it back again, provided you'll agree / That your bright jewel of a heart may be purloined by me. / And that we mutually keep each other's heart for life, / Holding possession upon terms of husband and of wife."

This splendid collection of valentines and related materials provides an exciting new dimension to the holdings of the de Grummond Collection. An extensive exhibition is planned for Valentine's Day 1997. If you can't wait that long, full-color scanned images of several cards can be viewed at the de Grummond Collection web page highlighting the Neubert Valentine collection.

 

 

Contact:
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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