‘World’s oldest’ Valentine card sold in Derbyshire

Valentine card dating back to circa 1790 Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The card, which includes the line “be my Valentine”, dates to about 1790

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.”

Image copyright Jakki Brown
Image caption Jakki Brown, who collects historical greeting cards, was the successful bidder

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!”

Image copyright Hansons
Image caption The card, which has a picture on the front and a verse inside, was folded to send to its recipient

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.

It is thought the first pre-printed card, which is held at York Castle Museum. dates from 1797.

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.

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