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How the Victorians loved … ancient Valentine’s cards found in shoebox give modern Briton a lesson in the gentle art of romance

Victorian Valentine’s cards that are more than 120 years old have been unearthed in a shoebox – and offer modern Briton a lesson in romance from a century ago.

Each one of some 20 carefully crafted cards, dating back to between 1880 and 1890, give an indication of how people wooed the love of their lives in days gone by.

Delicate and often floral, messages talk of ‘hope’ and ‘darling hope’ in the quest to win over hearts. Meanwhile, poetic lines are filled with sentiment, a million miles away from the brashness witnessed in some cards today.

The Victorian Valentine cards have been unearthed by Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire and Hansons London. They will be sold at a Hansons London auction in Teddington on February 10.

Charles Hanson said: “I couldn’t resist entering these cards into Hansons’ first London auction, giving people the chance to buy a genuine Victorian Valentine card in time for the most romantic day of the year. Surely, there can be nothing more romantic than that?

“I found them in a shoebox during a trip to Cambridgeshire and it was love at first sight. The sweet floral decorations, gentle colours and equally gentle wording talking of ‘hope’, are a delight.

“Today, some Valentine’s cards appear very brash in comparison and often lack the delicacy of sentiment and meaning demonstrated to us by the Victorians.

“Sending a message of love to someone who may not know your feelings is a delicate matter and the simple charms of these Victorian cards remind us how it should be done, tastefully and elegantly.

“Likewise, cards perhaps meant for a long-term sweetheart are equally appealing, comparing a voice to music and ‘bright glances like sunbeams’.”

“Another asks, ‘Could I be untrue to you? Ne’re while life remaineth’.”

“Thanks to the discovery of these cards, the Victorians have given us all a lesson in the art of romance in time for February 14, 2018.”

Britons spend around one billion pounds on Valentine’s Day each year and a card is key to delivering a message of love.

The Valentine’s cards will be sold on Saturday, February 10 at Hansons London auction room, The Normansfield Theatre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. The estimate is £50-£100. To find out more, call 020 8979 7954 or email [email protected]