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1780 to 1820

The earliest recognisable valentines were handmade from single sheets of paper, folded and then sealed with wax. They would then be hand-delivered by the sender, who would slip the Valentine under the door or tie it to the door knocker.

Each example from this period is virtually unique as pre-made cards were unavailable at this time. Valentines were individually devised and handmade by the sender and usually feature true-love knots, rebuses, acrostics, puzzles and poetry. Creating Valetines involved plenty of spare time as well as a degree of artistic ability and skill. It was fashionable for designs to display pin-prick work, hand embossing, cameos and colouring by hand.

Collected verses known as 'Valentine Writers' were published for use in handmade Valentines, featuring poetry both sentimental and comic.