The “world’s oldest” Valentine’s card, believed to be handwritten about 230 years ago, has been sold at auction for £7,000.
Charles Hanson, of Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire, described it as “delicate and torn”, but “something very special”.
The card, which had a guide price between £300 to £400, was brought by a buyer in London.
Mr Hanson said the “declaration of love” dates to about 1790.
Jakki Brown, 54, editor of a greeting card trade magazine, from London, bought the card.
“I’m so happy. I was convinced I would be outbid,” she said.
“I was so nervous about the sale, I hardly slept the night before.
“For me, this Valentine is a wonderful example of an enduring British tradition. I will never sell it.”
Mr Hanson said he was assessing a collection of Victorian and Georgian cards, sourced in the UK between 1949 and 1990, when he came across it.
The message on the front reads: “Farewell you sweet and turtle dove. On you alone, I fixed my love. And if you never can be mine, I never can no comfort find!”
Mr Hanson said it must be “the world’s oldest Valentine still in existence”.
“[The] heartfelt, handwritten declaration of love is still intact and that’s enormously touching,” he said.
The oldest Valentine’s letter in the English language is thought to have been written in 1477.
In Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated in the 17th Century.
By the middle of the 18th Century, friends and lovers exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.