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Valentine’s cards were big business in Victorian London. Cheap and charming, sentimental and romantic, they were just the job for flirtatious Londoners.
By the 1840s, the city’s sweethearts were sending each other around half a million Valentine’s cards every February. This was thanks to the new Penny Post, which allowed letters to be sent for one penny. With several deliveries a day, the Penny Post was as close as the Victorians got to texting their loved ones!
The card on the right is one of 1700 Valentine’s cards in the Museum of London’s collection. It was made in the workshops of Islington stationer, Jonathan King and dates from the 1850s. King ran his business in partnership with his mother. In their workshop on Essex Road, the largely female workforce would assemble cards from coloured paper, lace and printed scrap motifs. Many of King’s Valentines were exported to America, where they were advertised for sale as the latest London fashions.