the victorian valentines

The Old Post office

An old-time post office will be open especially for you Place de la Pousterle.

Thanks to it, you will be able to send your Saint Valentine postcards to your beloved....


At the time of Valentine, a ?Valentine? was a message of friendship. The message of Love was further introduced in the Middle Ages.

There are traces of this custom in England in the 14th century, where the poet John Gower cited it in the 34th and 35th ballads. In 1381, the father of English poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer, also mentioned this custom.


The first valentine card

After the defeat of Azincourt in 1415, Charles of Orleans left England after 25 years of captivity. He brought with him a very romantic English tradition consisting, for a lover, to send his beloved a message full of love and tenderness, called a ?Valentine?, on Saint Valentine?s Day.

From then on, this custom was instituted at the Court of France.

It was only in 1496 that Saint Valentine officially became the patron of Lovers.

Valentines, decorated with hearts and Cupids spread throughout Europe in the 18th century.


Handmade valentines

At the beginning of the 19th century, Valentines were the most widespread way to declare one?s love. They were sometimes anonymous and made the hearts of the young ladies beat.

For those young people who could not write verse of their own for the object of their love, an English editor even proposed Valentines with poems.

Around 1840-1860 appeared the Victorian times Valentines. They were true works of art: quill drawn, decorated with lace, silk, satin, flowers, some even scented, and supplemented with highly romantic poems.

In 1848, an American paper-maker, M. Howland, imported Valentines from England, which immediately drew the attention of his wife.

Very quickly, she hired a dozen of employees and launched a line of products that met with great success in the Americas.

Since 1865, American people have been very keen on these Valentines.


The Postcard

It is only at the end of the 19th century that postcards started being mass-manufactured and that a real postcard industry developed in England, Germany, and the United States.

Nowadays, each year more than one billion postcards are exchanged in the world for Saint Valentine?s Day, of which women write 85%.

In the beginning of our 21st century, other means of communication arise: fax, video message, email, and so on. But can any of them replace the old-time ?Valentine? that tells so well how much Love unites two Valentines?