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Lifestyle & Human Interest

200-Year-Old Valentine's Day Card Has Been Rediscovered

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Valentine’s Day draws out the romantic side in many people, and it’s one of the days that it’s not only acceptable but encouraged for star-crossed lovers to get a little sappy about their significant others.

The trend has been in place for a while, as a peek at some old Valentine’s Day cards will show. People love a good card, and when relics surface there’s always someone interested in buying.

In 2019, Hansons Auctioneers presented a card that was over 230 years old. Written around 1790, the piece was a glimpse back in time.

“Farewell you sweet and turtle dove,” the card read on the front, according to the Metro. “On you alone, I fixed my love. And if you never can be mine. I never can no comfort find!”

This inside of the card continued the poem:

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Life they say is but a span,
Let’s be happy while we can,
Life is short then don’t decline,
Therefore make your choice today,
Let me pray thee to be mine,
Oh my dear sweet Valentine,
You are not sure my dearest dear,
Of a Valentine next year,
Pray thee answer by a line,
If you will be my Valentine.

The sentiment is a familiar one, if framed in slightly less flowery language now. Initial estimates placed the card’s value around $250 to $400, but it ended up selling for over $9,000.

“I’m so happy,” new owner Jakki Brown, also a co-owner and editor of a magazine about the greeting card industry in London, said. “I was convinced I would be outbid. I was so nervous about the sale, I hardly slept the night before. I’ve bought this because I really believe in the art of card sending and to buy this on Valentine’s Day makes it extra special.”

“I will use it to promote the art of sending greetings cards. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Greeting Card Association. For me, this valentine is a wonderful example of an enduring British tradition. I will never sell it.”

Brown isn’t the only one to appreciate a heartfelt rhyme and colorful sentiments: Gavin Littaur is also a fan of old school Valentine’s Day cards.

He bought a card two decades ago, and it’s been sitting in an album ever since. Hailing from 1818, the card is one of the oldest known in existence.

“I’m a bit of a romantic and just talking about this Valentine rekindles my love for it,” Littaur said, according to the New York Post. “It’s beautiful — exceptionally so, in fact.”

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“George III would have been on the throne when this embossed letter was made by Dobbs of London more than 200 years ago. It’s one of the earliest postally-used Valentines in existence.”

While Brown has forgotten how much he paid for the gilded greeting, he remembers that it was “expensive.”

The wording on the card is certainly not something you’ll see in most cards these days, with allusions to mythology surrounded by an intricate flower border.

“From him who upon the return of another Valentine’s Day, looks forward with pleasure to the time when his hopes may be realized; & at the altar of Hymen [Greek god of love] he shall receive the hand accompanied with the heart of her for whom he feels — not a wild and romantic love, which abates after a short acquaintance — but an affection which time increases rather than diminishes.”

It’s a far cry from the mass-produced, perforated packs of cutesy animal valentines with holes punched for a lollypop to be added in — but they represent different times and different purposes.

How sappy do you get with your Valentine’s messages?

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking