Friday, February 12, 2016

Vinegar Valentines, or Victorian Insult Cards

Feeling anti-Valentine's Day this year? Well, instead of sending lovey-dovey cards, you can send Vinegar Valentines and insult those you dislike this year! Vinegar Valentines were a popular Victorian tradition of sending offensive cards to your enemies or people you disliked or you thought had done wrong.

According to Wikipedia, these cards were first produced in America as early as the 1840s and really gained in popularity around the turn of the century, and continued to be produced until about the 1940s. In Britain, they were more commonly called "mock" or "mocking" Valentines, and they were even erroneously referred to as "penny dreadfuls" at one point.

They were mean-spirited, sarcastic, and cynical - each card was decorated with a caricature of a certain type of person accompanied by a cruel, insulting poem that usually rhymed. The cards attacked people's appearances, those that didn't conform to social norms of the time, those that acted above their social station, the rude, the lazy, feminists, the pompous, the flirtatious, bookworms, bosses, Civil War surgeons and secessionists, etc. These unflattering Vinegar Valentines were sent out, usually anonymously, around Valentine's Day to condemn the behavior of family members, acquaintances, neighbors, store-clerks, couples, and so on.

Check out some examples of these insulting Victorian Vinegar Valentines below:

The Artist
He's the real thing, first notice his hair; 
His careless "Impressionist" air,
He paints awful trash
With a great deal of dash,
But if he can sell them, why care?

In Disgustingly Bad Taste!
Are you too stupid and senseless to know
That this sort of thing makes a sickening show?
About spooning in private I've nothing to say,
But to do it in public proclaims you a jay.

A Bird
One day, while walking out, you heard
Some fellow say, "Gee! She's a Bird!"
You did not see him when he winked,
And said, "That Bird SHOULD be extinct."

What wonder men laugh at you everywhere,
And of you all the ladies are shy - 
You've the mind of a fool and the style of a bear,
And you look such a horrible guy!

Oh pussycat pussycat where have you been
Who have you been scratching, you know what I mean
You always are seeking a victim to find
But don't fix on me for I am not so blind
No pussy no pussy I don't like your paw
I know very well its sharp cruel claw.

The Lazy Employee
Sleepy dumb-head, shake your bones!
Wake up and do the chores!
No one ever did succeed 
Who always nods and snores.

You Are A Nerve-Destroyer.
When a pig's getting slaughtered, the noise that it makes
Is sweeter by far than your trills and your shakes;
And the howling of cats in the backyard at night,
Compared with your singing's a dream of delight.
Your squalls and your bawls are such torture to hear,
A man almost wishes he had not an ear;
If some one would choke you, and thus end their pain,
Hearty thanks from your poor distressed neighbors he'd gain.

The Lover
On poetry and gush he is strong,
And he tells her the same worn-out song,
They're soft and they're sappy,
But Oh! they're so happy,
Though his madness won't last very long.

I'm not attracted by your glitter,
For well I know how very bitter
My life would be if I should take
You for my spouse, a rattlesnake
Oh no, I'd not accept the ring,
Or evermore 'twould prove a sting.

Old Maid
She's caught a poor cat and a bird, 
But she can't snare a man, so we've heard,
It's the old maid's sad fate
To lose out on a mate
And take tea - but s-sh! not a word.

Bald Head
Your bright shining pate is seen at all shows
And invariably down in the bald-headed rows,
Where you make conspicuous by your tender care
Your true ardent love for that one lonesome hair.

You slave, and save and starve yourself
And I can't see the reason why
You've hoarded all those piles of money - 
You can't take it with you when you die -

The Visiting Pest
Oh, pest! Get out! and please keep out!
Oh, stay away forever!
I'll call you when I want you here
I'm certain t'will be never!

To the Surgeon
Ho! ho! old saw bones, here you come,
Yes, when the rebels whack us,
You are always ready with your trape,
To mangle, saw, and hack us.

The Secessionist
You are the man who chuckles when the news
Comes o'er the wires, and tells of sad disaster;
Pirates on sea succeeding - burning ships and crews,
Rebels on land marauding, thicker, aye, and faster,
You are the two-faced villain, though not very bold,
Who would barter your country for might or for gold.

Pray do you ever mend your clothes,
Or comb your hair? Well, I suppose
You've got no time, for people say,
You're reading novels all the day.

A Poetical Poseur
Behold this pale little poet.
With a finger at forehead to show it;
But the way he gets scads
Is by writing soap ads, 
But he wants nobody to know it!

As you wait upon the women
With disgust upon your face,
The way you snap and bark at them
One would think you owned the place

He rushes his car with a will,
All things in his path does he kill;
Dogs, cats and babies,
Old men and ladies,
While he seldom suffers a spill!

To a Wooden-Post Man
Hurry up! Hurry up! with that Post Card.
Your pay is not quite princely, your work is somewhat hard,
To wed a penny postman is not my fate,
For that you'll find I'm posted much too late.

So, so Miss this is very fine?
This is how you spend your time
Reading some old trashy book
Then after every swell to look
Nursemaids like you at once should be
Expelled from every family.

Old Rooster
You make pretense of being young,
Though your muscle's weak and nerves unstrung,
Your actions go from bad to worse
So you really ought to have a nurse.

Miss Vanity
You think yourself a picture,
You are - a sketch in paint,
You work for hours before the glass,
To look like what you ain't.

Oh! you ugly little thing
The sight of you's distressing,
You would look worse if it were not
For your gaudy dressing.
Just fancy calling you a page
You should be in an iron cage.

The Mother-in-Law
She fights and she snarls like a cat,
She lays out her son-in-law flat,
Her manner's tyrannic,
Her nerve is titanic,
And you never know where she is at.

Here's a pretty cool reception,
At least you'll say there's no deception,
It says as plain as it can say,
Old fellow you'd best step away.

Held in Bondage
Your wifey holds you, in her hands.
You dare not disobey commands.
And every single cent you earn
She takes - and so has money to burn.

But who would ever fall in love
With such a dissipated Weed.

Suffragette Valentine
Your vote from me you will not get,
I don't want a preaching suffragette.

Pity a Poor Wounded Heart
'Tis said you share your love with many,
but I believe you have not any
At least enough to give away,
You keep it for yourself they say.

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