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LIVE 24-SEVEN


A BUY E R’ S GUIDE LOVE IS IN THE AIR. . .


...Collecting Vintage Valentines. The history of Valentine’s Day has its roots in an ancient Roman fertility festival which took place each year on 14th February. The Catholic Church in the 5th century adapted this same 14th February date as the feast date of Saint Valentine.


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Be it myth or fact, many today believe that St. Valentine was a priest in Rome who performed marriages in defiance of a ban on marriage imposed by the Roman Emperor Claudius, the rationale for the marriage ban being bachelors made better soldiers. Over the centuries, St. Valentine, as well as the date February 14th, became more and more entwined with the concepts of courtly love and romantic poetry. The trend was popular throughout Europe, but England really ran with the idea, as lovers in the late 1700s would exchange sentimental verses on this day. In 1797, a book entitled ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ came out to help frustrated would-be suitors. This also allowed ‘secret admirers’ to send racy verses or limericks via post.


Will Farmer is our antiques & collectors expert, he is well known for his resident work on the Antiques Roadshow, he has also written for the popular ‘Miller’s Antique Guide’. Those in the know will have also come across him at ‘Fieldings Auctioneers’. We are delighted that Will writes for Live 24-Seven, he brings with him a wealth of knowledge and expertise.


Naturally, Valentine's Day exploded in popularity under the reign of wildly romantic and sentimental Queen Victoria. In the mid-1800s fancy Valentines


adorned with real lace, paper lace and ribbons were assembled in factories as the British spent one billion pounds a year on Valentine gifts like cards, flowers and chocolates.


Eventually, the practice of exchanging cards spread around the world, being particularly taken up in the United States. It was in the United States that Esther Howland received a Valentine from a British man her father knew through business in 1847. Intrigued by the idea, she began importing the materials and hand-producing her own versions to sell in America and the idea took off like wildfire. The first commercially-produced Valentine cards in the United States appeared circa 1860 and the craze for sending and exchanging cards reached its peak between 1890 and 1915. During these years, February 14th became one of the postman’s busiest days.


The charm of early handmade cards, often with a few lines of verse proclaiming one’s love, make them a favourite of today’s collector. Although they are more difficult to find, fine examples can be purchased today for as little as £20, whilst the more elaborate handmade cards, especially when found in excellent condition, can command prices as high as £800 or even £1000.


Commercial ‘three dimensional’ Valentines first appeared circa 1880. Often, they were die-cut chromolithograph images which, when the card was opened, produced a three-dimensional view. The best of these cards were produced in Germany and in today’s strong collector market prices for these adorable 100-year-old cards can be as little as £10, with more elaborate examples going for hundreds of pounds.


In the early 1900s, the Penny Valentine Postcard made its appearance and added to the postcard craze that gripped this nation during the early years of the 20th


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