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The Game of Love in Georgian EnglandCourtship, Emotions, and Material Culture$
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Sally Holloway

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823070.001.0001

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The Marketplace of Love

The Marketplace of Love

(p.93) 4 The Marketplace of Love
The Game of Love in Georgian England

Sally Holloway

Oxford University Press

This chapter reveals what was new to the material culture of courtship, from porcelain snuffboxes and glass signets printed with romantic motifs to the increasingly elaborate laced and embossed valentine cards sold by printers, booksellers, and stationers’ shops. The Georgian era is presented as an important transitional period in the modernization and commercialization of romantic customs. After Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753 required marriages to take place at church in a single legal event—precluding suits in the church courts to compel the performance of a marriage contract—courting couples exchanged an ever-diversifying range of new consumer goods as romantic gifts. A growing number and variety of novelty items such as printed handkerchiefs were designed specifically as valentine souvenirs, as Valentine’s Day developed into a love industry. The chapter explores how love was packaged and sold to consumers in new ways, and the consequences of this shift for the rituals and experiences of romantic love.

Keywords:   courtship, love, gift-exchange, gifts, material culture, commercial culture, consumer revolution, modernity, emotions, Georgian England

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