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1820 to 1860 | Short history of Valentines | Birmingham City Council

1820 to 1860

The Industrial Revolution saw rapid advances in printing and manufacturing techniques. Machines mass-produced a wide variety of fancy paper goods and the greetings card industry was born. Valentines from this period are engraved, woodcut and lithographed and hand-coloured. Valentines were left blank, so that the purchaser could add their own message.

Intricate etched and cut-out designs such as flower cage, beehive and cobweb decoration were more expensive and yet hugely popular. Paper lace Valentines are highly decorative designs with beautifully embossed and cut-out borders. Highly collectable, the name of the manufacturer can sometimes be hidden amongst the lace design.

Comic Valentines were hugely popular at this time and were meant to trick and amuse the recipient rather than to delight. Some comic Valentines are designed to be witty and humorous, but mostly they were abusive and caused great offence.