This chapter uses sensory interaction with love tokens to explore the process of falling in love. It brings together gifts typically selected by courting men, such as garters, rings, and stay busks, with those characteristically chosen by women, such as violets and hair-work tokens, plus letters, locks of hair, silhouettes, and miniature portraits exchanged by both sexes. The chapter reveals how highly ritualized ways of gazing at, touching, and smelling these items both created and expedited the experience of love. As the nun Héloïse wrote to her tutor Abelard, in the absence of a lover the power of imagination could make pictures ‘grow the more finish’d, and acquire a greater Resemblance’, while letters could fire the passions ‘as if the Persons themselves were present’. By considering how individuals collected and interacted with gifts, the chapter responds to Monique Scheer’s call for historians of the emotions to think ‘harder about what people are doing’ by looking at the ‘bodies and artifacts of the past’.
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