My husband’s brother inherited a piece of antique Victorian-era furniture originally belonging to his great-grandfather. The piece has stood in the living room of my brother- and sister-in-law for many years since Grandma (the original owner’s daughter-in-law) passed away. I’ve admired the piece but didn’t recognize it was more than a glass-fronted cabinet–a writing desk!–until I saw an historic advertisement for a nearly identical piece in a nineteenth century newspaper advertisement.
This article contains newspaper advertisements with engravings, images of current antique combination desk bookcases, and our family heirloom piece. Victorian prices are compared with the modern dollar (accounting for inflation).
We’ve seen the financial, legal, and emotional costs of a courtship gone wrong and culminating in a suit for breach of promise. In Victorian America, where such a consequence was possible if not common enough (to scare a young swain or two), advice of how to break up an unhealthy courtship–or cancel a planned wedding–must have been given by mothers, fathers, society matrons, and “Dear Abby’s” of the day. Indeed they did! This article includes quotes from 3 era-specific books published during the time period.
Whether referred to as “Correspondence Courtship” or “Epistolary Courtship”, part of the natural course of 19th century courting included letter-writing. Victorian-era couples could express tender sentiments in letters more easily (often) than in person. Many couples didn’t have the opportunity to spend time together, face-to-face, for too many miles separated them. Coming to know one another, and fall in love, through letter-writing was a standard practice. Results varied from blissful conjugal felicity (a frequently used term of the American Victorian era) to sensational disasters.
Interestingly enough, the term “Correspondence Courtship” (or very similar phrasing) appeared much more frequently and earlier than did the phrase “Mail-Order Bride”.
After a 12-part series consisting of lengthy blog posts covering many (but far from all) scams reported in Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride situations, is it possible to believe anyone found success in such a venture?
It’s true! While happiness might not garner front-page news stories, happy mail-order bride marriages did occur–more often than they ended in disaster. This article contains six historically documented SUCCESS stories!
One common thread through all Articles in this series (Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS) is the criminal’s intention to capitalize on their victims’ loneliness and desire for love and companionship.
Some brides-elect and grooms-elect actually had their intellect about them enough to recognize when things weren’t quite right (even if fraud was not involved in one out of three incidences)… and made prudent decisions about their course of action.