Page revised 9 July 2001
ARMS, CRESTS & MONOGRAMS
Crests are occasionally found containing or conveying messages, the most commonly encountered being ones which incorporate a depiction of the devil, usually with humorous wording. From the variety one must suppose that the Victorians found these unstated references to the devil risque or amusing, or both.
It is thought that the several crests relating to tennis and that for croquet would have been retailed as special occasion invitation stationery, which was probably also the origin of the crests depicting the teapot and the tea-table. In support of this it is noted that two of them carry the exhortation to 'come early'.
In the author's collection of crest related ephemera is a Victorian stationery box measuring 13.5 x 18.2cm, the label of which is illustrated here, which contained 50 chit papers or billet doux. What is thought to have been one of these chits was still in the box. It comprises a single sheet, the square section of which would be folded in half and then the gummed flap moistened and folded to seal the note, the sides remaining open. On the flap of the chit is the 'device in relief', a squirrel with the injunction 'look within'.
The crest of mistletoe is on very small notepaper and it is possible that the other message crests were from similar novelty paper.
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