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Sailor’s Valentines: A gift of Love

Let’s start this look at Sailor’s Valentines with a poem;
The distant climes may us divide
to think on you shall be my pride
The Winds and Waves may prove unkind
In me no change you’ll ever find.
A magic spell will bind us fast
And make me love you to the last
Let Cupid then your heart incline
to take me for your Valentine!
Sailor’s Valentine – “A Present/Think of Me”, shell, cedar, glass, metal, cotton, tintype, ca. 1895. Courtesy of Strong Museum.

Jane Austen’s brothers, Francis and Charles, often sailed in the East Indies. Is it possible that one of them might have brought back a ‘Sailor’s Valentine’ for his sweetheart or wife? It is thought that by 1820, the craze for these treasures had reached a peak that would last through the Victorian era.

A Regency needlework silk picture- “The Sailor’s Farewell”, depicting a Tar leaving a weeping woman in front of a domestic setting with stumpwork trees.

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Conserve of Roses, boiled

Most roses are edible. Roses are not the only flowers that can be used to add a delicious and exotic taste to all types of dishes. The flavor of roses, however, is distinct and immediately recognizable, and it looks as wonderful as it tastes.

If you are looking to make your Valentine bouquet last just a bit longer, try this recipe, from Hannah Glasse’s 1747 cookbook, The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy. Below it, you’ll find an updated adaptation.  Of course, if you prefer to try the jam without any effort, several companies do sell their own, ready made versions, as well.

Highly scented roses work best for this project.

Conserve of Roses, boiled
In order to conserve roses, take red roses, take off all the whites at the bottom, or elsewhere, take three times the weight of them in sugar, put to a pint of roses a pint of water, skim it well, shred your roses a little before you put them into water, cover them, and boil the leaves tender in the water, and when they are tender put in your sugar; keep them stirring, lest they burn when they are tender, and the syrup be consumed. Put them up, and so keep them for your use.
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