A Love Letter to Cupid on Valentine’s Day

A bronze medal of Cupid and his wife Psyche sold for $26.95 in 2013.

Cupid, born of the Greeks as Eros, god of love, desire, attraction and affection. 

You may find Cupid alongside his mother Venus/Aphrodite, or his curious wife Psyche.  He can also be found sneaking around all on his own, pulling back his bow and ready to let loose an arrow on unsuspecting young lovers. 

Cupid appears quite opposite of the other icon of the Valentine holiday– St. Valentine.  When hit with Cupid’s golden arrow you develop an uncontrolled desire.  Some of the St. Valentine stories, with their romantic but tragic ends, make the Saint appear as a victim of Cupid.  Cupid is the more mischievous of the two and certainly less saintly, the way only Greek and Roman gods can be.  If the stories are true, both experienced a great love but things turned out much better for our friend Cupid.  If I had to pick sides, I’m with Cupid. There is a schadenfreude aspect to watching whom Cupid will bring together in love.  As the saying goes, there is a lid for every pot, and Cupid should know, as he can be found on both the lid and the pot.

But is Cupid collectible?  He adorns everything from cards to jewelry, classical paintings and dime-store figurines.  This mascot of Valentine’s Day probably appears in some form or another in every house in America.  Actually, Cupid is hiding in so many places on so many items, you may already have your own cupid collection.  For the love of Valentine’s Day, let’s explore some of Cupid’s hiding (in plain sight) places.

Tobacciana collectors should find an abundance of cupids among their collections, from tins to tags, matchboxes and ashtray stands.

This vintage cupid cigarette tin sold for $63.04 in 2012.

A cupid tobacco tag sold for $19.99 in 2013.

Classical figures are expected on Wedgwood Jasperware porcelain and Cupid is hiding there too.

This Wedgwood Jasperware cupid plate sold for $29.99 in 2011.

Cupid was also a favorite figure to grace Limoges porcelain.  He can be found on boxes, cups, plates, switch plates, vases, as a figurine and other table and decorative items.  The trinket boxes seem especially apropos for Valentine’s Day.

This cupid Limoges box sold for $35 in 2014.

Cupids and Grandmas of a certain age go together like roses and chocolate.  I have visited many a grandmother’s living room where cupid candlesticks, clocks, lamps and figurines waited to shoot their arrows on unexpecting guests. 

A New Haven cupid gilded clock sold for $74 in 2013.

Decorating in the mid-century in mid-America there were actually many styles of decorating to choose from.  Currently the most popular is a style of minimalism and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Slightly less popular are those who went for a suburban vision of European luxury identified by flocked wallpaper and Cupid.

Even in the toy box you will find Cupid.  Monster High, the anti-Barbie of the toy aisles, created C.A. Cupid perhaps because of Cupid’s sometimes monstrous mischief.

This Monster High C.A. Cupid sold for $45.70 in 2015.

As a want-to-be seamstress, a cupid thimble would be my preferred Valentine’s gift.  Cupid thimbles must have been quite the thing at some point, because there are many examples of interesting ones sold over the years. 

This cupid sterling silver thimble sold for $209.99 in 2018.

Once you go on the search I think you will find Cupid already resides with you, ready to bring love and affection to your household.  But please don’t mistake our Cupid for the also ubiquitous Putti, those chubby, naked and winged cherubim beloved by the Renaissance and Baroque periods in art.  I remember a time in the 1990s where you could not get away from Raphael’s adorable putti.  Items adorned with the 16th Century Putti were used for every holiday Valentine’s Day and Christmas included.  This sweet pink duvet cover, while not Cupid, might still get my approval for a Valentine’s gift:

This beautiful French small duvet cover sold for $28.50 in 2013.

May your holiday be filled with love and a shot from Cupid’s arrow.

Megan Mahn Miller is an auctioneer and appraiser specializing in Rock ‘n Roll and Hollywood memorabilia, and other hard-to-value items.  Her company, Mahn Miller Collective, Inc. can assist you with solving your personal property problems. Visit www.mahnmiller.com for more information.

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