Quick Reference

Time Period:
Between 1903 - 1908










This work by Woodward made sometime just prior to or after his tragic accident, illustrates his passion for making personalized cards and gifts.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: To Tell Mother I love Her

RSW's Diary Comments


Additional Notes

Inside Cover of The Love Leaf
Inside Cover of The Love Leaf
Dated: June 13, 1907 for Helen Ives


This card was given, as part of a collection of papers, photographs and other items given to the Smithsonian Museum, in 1972 by Woodward's cousin Florence Haeberle and is found in their collection. Included with Florence's contribution of items (photos, etc.) is a large number of letters and other keepsakes collected by RSW's childhood friend/penpal Helen Ives Schermerhorn. The items were given to Florence by Helen's sister-in-law Anna, after her death in 1970. Also in the Smithsonian are contributions by another childhood friend Harold Grieve, as well as, adult friend and amateur photographer F. Earl Williams. Not in Woodward's collection, but related, are letters between the artist and the owner of the MacBeth Gallery in NYC, William MacBeth. Those items are in the MacBeth Collection.

5 Triangle Trapeziod Symbol from back cover of The Love Leaf
5 Triangle Motif from back cover
of The Love Leaf

This is at least the third, maybe fourth time I am updating or ammending the notes related to this card in 5 years. First we believed the obvious, "This was made by RSW for his mother!" Then when we began to link the 5 triangle motif to other items branded with the same symbol we began to question what seemed obvious, "Maybe this was not for his mother but he made it for someone else's mother, like Helen's?" The motif was related to a number of other items known to have been given to Helen in 1907 shortly after RSW's accident. Maybe he made it for Helen's mother? Maybe he made it for Helen to give to her mother... after all he is trying to earn some money and keep himself busy making cards and heraldic devices for print.

As it always is when you over-think something, one often misses what is right under their nose. This card is incomplete! It is unfinished. Note the left side white border abruptly ends part way up the card... not all of the lettering is colored in, and its borders are clearly still in pencil.

A close up of the leaf from the card
A close up of the leaf from the card

So here is where we are at in regard to this card- it was not made or given to anyone specific for use. It is probably a sample of sorts related to what RSW was doing after his accident. What remains in question is who gave it for the Smithsonian Collection? Even more compelling is WHY was an unfinished card, likely made before 1908, saved into the 1970s? What makes it special? Florence just 10 years old when the card was most likely made, Harold was even younger but was a neighbor of Woodward's in Los Angleles at the time, F. Earl did not yet know him, and Helen was 24 years old and also the recipient of a lot of items from Woodward, many of which included the 5 triangle motif... it is the artwork. This is why the card was saved. It does not really matter who had it. It was kept because the artwork is just terrific. The dried, curled leaf to the left is amazing. BCM

Other items containing the 5 triangle motif [seen below] are assumed to be from the time period between when RSW was at the Bradley Polytechnic Instutute in Peoria, 1903, to after his accident in Los Angeles up to 1908. It is believed to be a logo of sorts (the triangles form an invisible "W") he branded his work for print at the time.

Ink Drawing:Forgotten House    Find the motif!
This ink sketch was actually found in a sketchbook recently
(2019). It is related to an ink wash, dated 1903, and also
a part of the Smithsonian Collection -
Unnamed: Forgotten House
RSW bookplate doodle
In a letter to Helen Ives (1906), Woodward
doodles his ideal for his bookplate to Helen.
In it is the 5 triangle motif aside the snail RSW
claims represents himself, "Slow but sure."