Embroidery Inspiration – Valentine’s Day – Love Tokens

Happy Valentine’s Week! Love never seems to go out of style, so this week I’m taking a look at embroidery that features expressions of love, hearts, and other romantic elements.

This 18th century letter case would be the the perfect place to store love notes, don’t you think? It’s made from red silk damask embroidered with silver thread to depict a heart and a stag. Online Galleries.

This pair of embroidered hearts is tarnished, but still lovely. They are part of a framed piece that is dated 1815, and sold on Etsy. I especially like the heart pierced by an arrow, and the way that a smooth threads, purl thread, and spangles are used to create various textures throughout the design. RESERVED // 1800s antique French metal by histoireancienne on Etsy
This small embroidered purse features a heart aflame and the monogram AM. While it was sold as a love token, I suspect the flames represent not love, but religious devotion. The monogram AM topped with a crown is usually a symbol for “Auspice Maria,” or “under the protection of Mary.” Either way, it’s a lovely piece.  Kerry Taylor Auctions.
A somewhat more intimate token of love are these 18th century garters are embroidered in French to say “My motto is to love you and to never change.” MFA.
What about a set of stays embroidered with folk art images, including birds, plants, and of course, hearts? The colorful embroidery makes these quite a striking and unusual example. The Met. Corset, Cotton, silk, American
 This embroidered wedding shirt from Spain keeps thoughts of your beloved “close to your heart.” Among the folk embroidery motifs and flowers sits a delicate openwork heart. Zoom in on the museum website to get a closer look. The Met. Wedding shirt, cotton, SpanishThis heart-shaped pendant is sweetly simple, with a dove holding a sprig of forget-me-nots. The reverse (not shown) depicts a couple walking towards a house. The embroidery was stitched using several shades of hair, which makes this a deeply personal and touching piece. Museum of London.

Pendant in the form of a crowned heart, front view: 18th century - Pendant in the form of a crowned heart, front view. Gold background and double-sided with faceted rock crystal covers in hinged gold collets enclosing two panels of silk embroidered with pictures in hair. Its front shows a dove bearing a sprig of forget-me-not. The reverse shows a landscape with a couple walking towards a house. Both scenes are traditional symbols of wooing and marriage.

Your sweetheart might like one of these tiny embroidered samplers to fit inside a pocket watch as a reminder of your love. Flowers, forget-me-knots, hearts, and initials are common themes for a token like these.

What do you think of these examples? Have you made any love tokens yourself? Please share your work or favorite antique pieces in the comments.
I will be sharing more examples throughout the week on Facebook.

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