Testing Your Heart, 1911
This “Halloween Series” postcard is “Copyright 1910 by A. Jaeger” (though this one was posted on 20 October 1911). The caption reads:
On Hallowe’en the witches resort
To test lovers hearts in a glass retort
If they turn Black she knows what to do
Should it stay Red your lover is true
Throw ink down her well, to break the charm
And your lover is safe for it will shield him from harm.
Obviously this is one of the more witchy “Romantic Customs of Yesteryear” that Diane C. Arkins writes about in Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear (2000). Arkins quotes many forms of divination, including selecting a “fate,” counting apple seeds and buttons, observing the shape of apple-peel, candle-smoke or wax, the movement of needles, matches and popping nuts, and many more, but not this one.
The form of augury that comes closest is that associated with nuts. Arkins writes (35):
The lion’s share of auguries associated with nuts focussed on interpreting their actions as they roasted in the flames of bonfire or hearth. In general, nuts that blazed brightly foretold prosperity, while those that smoldered or turned dark signaled misfortune. It was, however, those charms by which walnuts and chestnuts, were designed to represent individuals and their vigor in the fire observed, that the most romantic fortunes were told.
Popping and exploding nuts suggested an unfaithful lover, a steady glow the opposite, nuts that moved together or apart represented long or short unions, just as ones that smoldered black suggested poverty, those that burned brightly, wealth. In a group of nuts represent different suitors, the one that cracks first is your true love etc.
There are pages and pages of beautiful postcards with rhymes in Arkins’ book, and quotes from books on Halloween customs etc. It is a great book and anyone who is even a little witchy should have a copy!