Cupid was first issued in 1894 in what collectors usually call the Sod back, pictured here, which references the grass under the bicycle wheels. This version of Cupid is very rare in any color, especially green or brown. The Sod back was apparently discontinued early in its run, probably no later than 1896, which would account for the rarity of this back.

A blue single of the Cupid Sod back sold on eBay on June 9, 2016 for $125, continuing a series of record-setting prices for Bicycle singles. On October 12, 2016, a red single of the Cupid sod back sold on eBay for $26. The red singles seem to be more common than the blue.

The picture below shows the subtle changes in this back design from the earliest version to the most recent, reprinted in the mid-2000s. Unlike some other updated Bicycle backs, I think Cupid has evolved into a cleaner, more pleasing design--without sacrificing its excellent detail or essential design elements.

One interesting feature of the Sod version of Cupid is that it is actually a one-way back, meaning that the design of the card has a subtle difference that gives it a distinct "top" and "bottom." In this case, the linked rings around the periphery of the central circle have the links connected the opposite way on the left and the right. The difference can be clearly seen by comparing the right sides of the enlarged cards, below.

The final image, below, is a facsimile of the U.S. patent for the Cupid design, filed by John Omwake, apparently on behalf of the United States Printing Company.

Click on the link on the right below to see the more recent and considerably more common Cupid back with the cross-hatch background.

  20. Colorado Plaid                               21. Cupid - Crosshatch  


Image found at the Library of Congress by Maxime Heriaud