This is really extraordinary love token and pen wipe, both of which are favorites of mine. Before fountain pens, dip or nib pens were messy and leaked ink on the paper being written upon. So in the mid-19th century, women began stitching decorative pen wipes for their own use and to give as gifts. The majority of pen wipes were made by sandwiching layers of fabric (or leaves) under a central, and often three-dimensional design. As might be expected, the majority of the 19th and early 20th century pen wipes are from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area.
This leather and felt heart-in-hand is hand-stitched from two red felt leaves atop a black felt leaf. The two heart-in-hands are each sewn to another red felt leaf which outlines the stuffed kid leather hands. The hearts are cut from separate pieces of leather and stitched to the palm of the hands with rose-colored thread. Each finger is outlined with hand-stitching. I love the decorative stitching around the top of each shaped felt leaf and the stitching between the two hands. Condition is excellent but for some grime on the leather and expected ink staining on the interior leaves.
American, probably Pennsylvania. Circa last half of the 19th century. 4 1/2" x 6 1/3".
Provenance: ex-Edna Wise