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.