Valentine of the day: Love and lace

Mid-19th-century Valentines were often very elaborate.  This typical card from c.1845-50 features a printed landscape, layers of cut and embossed paper lace with gilt decoration, fabric flowers and a collaged Cupid. 


The message reads:

‘My fondest love,

These words express.

Dear Valentine,

The sender, guess.’


This card sent in 1865 combines lace decoration with a moral message.  The pair of compasses refers to a popular saying about moderation and restraint:

‘Keep within compass and you shall be sure,

To avoid many troubles which others endure.’

The ‘Grand Secret’ between the points of the compasses is revealed when the lace flap is lifted: ‘I Love You’.





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