Thursday, February 14, 2013

History of the Valentine

Who doesn't love receiving a lovely card or personalized note in the mail? Nothing says you matter like someone taking the time to write out their thoughts and making it decorative.

Did you know the modern idea of the Valentine's card originated in the 1400s. Originally known as 'amorous addresses', the first valentine was penned in 1415 by Charles the Duke of Orleans. Imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt, the duke wrote romantic poems for his wife back in France. These hand written valentines can be seen among the royal papers in the British Museum.

Since then the Valentine card morphed to include flower exchanges in the 1700s and then in 1840s there was the introduction of Daguerreotype, a tin type photographic process that showed a picture of a person with an ornamental wreath framing them. The mirror valentine was also popular, which was basically a mirror in the middle of the card reflecting the image of the recipient back at them.

By far my most favourite Valentine's are the ones that originated in Victorian times. Thanks to advances in printing processes, Valentinie's became amazingly popular. Dubbed 'Penny Postcards', because they cost a penny to send the mail, were collected and displayed in Victorian households around Valentine's day. Family and friends who came to call would flip through albums of Valentine's card and sometimes trade Valentine's. Many examples of these Victorian cards remain today simply because of the sheer volume of cards created and because they were stored safely in treasured albums.

What a great way to perk up the dreary month of February!

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