To a Bookbinder. A Nineteenth Century Valentine

Everybody’s Valentine Writer. New Castle on Tyne: Printed and Published by R. Walker, ca. 1850

To a Bookbinder:

Of all the great knaves, and of all the great fools

That ever yet handled a bookbinder’s tools;

Of all the big boobies that ere met my view–

Thou lank-haired and crooked-backed ninny, ’tis thou

Oh, well may the maidens all giggle and laugh.

To see such a carcase well bound up in calf,

Oh! Believe me, for ever and ever you’ll whine, 

Ere you press to pour chops a gay young Valentine.

Everybody’s Valentine Writer was a nineteenth century self-help book of sorts, to assist smitten romantics overcome stressful Valentine’s Day writer’s block. Some of the messages were quite targeted, even tailored to those in specific trades like bookbinding. There is another mid-nineteenth century valentine about a bookbinder with a wild image that I wrote about a few years ago. Both of these “vinegar valentines” share a common theme: bookbinders are undesirable foolish losers. Happy Valentine’s day, my dearest bookbinder colleagues!

Thanks to John Townsend for sending me to this Valentine!

A Bookbinder’s Valentine


Library Company of Philadelphia. ca. 1840-1880?

[New York] : H. De Marsan, Publisher of songs, 54 Chatham Street, N.Y


“My life’s a waste, I’m sick of paste; And printers, books and presses

Might quickly go to Jericho [1], Should Fortune smile, and bless tis I..

-Yes, but who’s the fool that would be thy Valentine?” [2]


1. Jericho is a place of banishment, retirement, or drunkenness according to Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang.

2. As she says this line, there is an interesting workplace reversal going on: the male binder (husband?) is at the sewing frame, typically the woman’s job, and she is tooling, typically done by men. Is he wearing a kings crown or a jesters hat?

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