On Sunday, February 5th, I attended a Victorian Valentine workshop with my friend Erin at Eldon House.
Historical interpreter Hillary Gugan walked us through the history of Valentine’s Day and the elements of Victorian card making.
Popularity of valentines increased in the mid-1800s as postal systems became more affordable and accessible. The number of printers creating mass valentines also boosted their popularity. Before that, valentines would have been delivered in person. Many of the cards were romantic in nature, however some were comedic and gave the opportunity for friends and even foes to poke fun at each other.
Flowers, lace, embossed papers, lace paper, hearts, cherubs and scenes of both romantic and comedic love were the mainstays of these cards.
Aside from valentines, the Victorians enjoyed making cards for other occasions, collecting scraps and verses that they could later use, resulting in what would often end up in scrapbooks of those they were given to.
The time and care put into handmade cards was extensive. Our Sunday three-hour-long workshop went by in a flash with some of us scrambling to finish. The cards produced were quite lovely with a great range of colours, sizes and themes. But all were truly Victorian and hopefully our Valentines agree!