Victorian Valentine Card Collection

Contributed by Priests House Museum and Garden

Handmade Victorian Valentine card.  © Priest's House Museum Trust

People became familiar with the envelope and its privacy in the 19th century. Valentines were now ever more popular.Printed Valentine cards first appeared in the 18th century, simple sheets with a written verse. Soon afterwards the traditional symbols began to appear - Cupid, flowers and hearts. The sending of Valentine cards rapidly increased in the 19th century as improvements in printing techniques and the postal service made it more affordable. The Victorians developed highly decorative cards using materials such as paper lace, feathers, tiny mirrors and even hair. They also loved a practical joke, using caricatures and a humorous verse; some examples went further and were intended to upset the recipient. The Priest's House Museum houses a collection of over 400 Valentine cards dating from the late 1830s to the early 1870s. They are unsold shop stock from a stationer's and tobacconist's, which was run from this building in the 19th century by William Low and then his son John.

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