Feb 13 2011 6:00am

Nothing Says Love Like Victorian Excess

Will you be my valentine? Seriously?

What would it take? Chocolates? Flowers? A romantic dinner? Some serious jewelry? A discreet but elegant house on Jermyn Street? A big wedding at St. George's Hanover Square? Well, for the Victorians, the key was apparently a big, fancy card. I mean really fancy: hearts, cupids, couples, beads, satin, flowers, feathers, jewels (everything but the house on Jermyn Street).

I must admit that for me, even today, those cards still evoke Valentine's Day. Although Valentine's Day, like many holidays, found its origins in a pagan celebration, the valentine card seems to have come into its own in the 19th centuries. Shall we look at a few? Let's start with this lovely example,Victorian Valentine

which incorporates hearts, flowers, birds, and maybe a little jewelry. Would you be this person's valentine?

Victorian Valentine

How about if we upped the ante on the flowers and threw in a whole bunch of lace, some butterflies, and a little girl for good measure?

Maybe you'd prefer a little more reality-based card?

Victorian Valentine

You, me, a vine-covered fake tree trunk? What could be more romantic?

Or we could fancy up the reality-based card with a better-looking couple and some more flowers.

Victorian Valentine

I'm sure neither one of us could grow a moustache like that. Are you feeling more, shall we say, juvenile?

Victorian Valentine

I have a card for that. In the mood for a party? Victorian Valentine

. . . or expecting a cartload of gifts delivered by Cupid? Victorian Valentine

Interested in more than one of us?

 Victorian Valentine

We can accommodate that. Gold and silver lace? Victorian Valentine

No problem. Or maybe you're just not interested. Just say so.

I can take a hint. There are other valentines in the box.

Images courtesy of Good Liver NOLA, Ms Judith,, The Stock Solution, Webweaver, CorbisImages, Victoriana Magazine, Vintage Holiday Crafts, I Ain't Dead Yet, and Lilly Library.



Myretta Robens, The Republic of Pemberley

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Stephanie Treanor
1. Streanor
LOVE the 'crushing hopes' image :)
2. Megan
I keep wondering if he's looking at her moustache, too. Before the days of Nair, I think.
Natasha Carty
3. WickedLilPixie
The moustache is totally on a female, without a doubt! But I do love the tree trunk growing out of the bench, classy!
Charli Mac
4. CharliMac
Let a man woo me around a fake tree stump. I may just show him my ankles!
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