Spectacular 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 heart-in-hand pen wipe is a three-dimensional hand of white kid leather with a heart of woven pink and white leather which sits upon three serrated-edge leather hearts of mauve, white, and pink. The wrist of the hand has a woven leather bracelet and the pen wipe leaves are serrated edged leather that is stuffed into and falls below the cuff. Two bows of darker pink ribbon (the ribbon is less red than this photo shows) adorn the fingers. The hand measures 6 1/2" tall. Condition is wonderful but for some expected dirt on the white leather and ink stains on the interior leaves.
American, probably Pennsylvania. Circa last half of the 19th century. 6 1/2" tall.
Provenance: ex-Edna Wise