Winners Announced! Curious Hieroglyphick Valentine Contest

The McGill Library is delighted to announce that we have not one but two winners of our Curious Hieroglyphick Valentine contest!

Both Rebecca Nicholson and Elaine Fernald succeeded in decoding the “Curious Hieroglyphick Valentine” from McGill’s uncatalogued collection of greeting cards. You can read their submissions below. Congrats!

A huge thank you to everyone who submitted…we loved reading the creative entries!

Printed some time in the mid-19th century, this clever Valentine’s rebus comes from McGill’s uncatalogued collection of greeting cards dating as far back as 1790, with many Victorian examples like this one. Valentine’s Day cards surged in popularity during the 19th century, with the spread of cheaper mass printing techniques and improvements to the postal systems in North America and the UK. Hieroglyphs, too, had captured the Victorian imagination since the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 and the deciphering of hieroglyphs in the 1820s.


Rebecca Nicholson

Fair is the morning the bird leaves its nest

And sings a salute to the dawn

The sun in full splendor, embroiders the east

And brightens the dew (den?) on the lawn

Tis Valentine’s day and my love I address

This letter can boast of a flame

So pure and so true I want words to express

But I ask you to give it a name

And while my dear love on this letter you gaze

Heave a sigh for a heart that is true

And believe that? it such warm affection conveys

As exists for no other but you

Elaine Fernald

Fair is the morning the bird leaves its nest And sings a salute to the dawn The sun in full splendor embroiders the east And brightens the dew on the lawn.

Tis Valentine’s day and my love I address This letter can boast of a flame So pure and so true I want words to express But I ask you to give it a name And while my dear love on this letter you gaze Heave a sigh for a heart that is true And believe that it such warm affection conveys As exists for no other but you.

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