Tears And Laughter


The ice-cream parlor is with us yet, but the deep plush year of 1879, when this charming confection was manufactured, is gone where the woodbine twineth. Politics were nasty and business methods rough and ready, but romance fluttered in a separate, faraway, hopelessly elevated sphere, a world all cupids and blushes, averted eyes and flowers pressed in memory books. A young man might push such a love token as this beneath the door, only to take to his heels. Chance alone decided whether he had picked a peach or a lemon in the Victorian garden of love.

Hearts, Flowers, and Happy Daydreams

It would have been hard indeed for any Currier & Ives customer, picking over the stock in the store at 152 Nassau Street, not to find something to his taste: patriotic tableaux, battles, city views, statesmen, military heroes, railroad engines, steamboats, trotting horses, “comics,” religious subjects, views of Ireland, pioneers, farm scenes, not to mention “sentimentals.” Prices varied from five to twenty-five cents, with nothing over the three dollars charged for the fine large folios. For the newly married there were domestic pantomimes like the pair at right; for mothers, angelic children in irresistible poses (left). There was a great deal of faintly Byronic fantasy for the excessively romantic, and the business-wise lithographers even put out a kind of mid-Victorian pin-up girl, like the slug-a-bed hussy above.