Vintage Valentine

The oldest printed Valentine’s Day card was published on January 12, 1797, by Londoner, John Fairburn and written by Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown of Kent Road, a man who appears to have been ‘ghosting’ her.

The printed verse around the edge is thus: ‘Since on this ever Happy day, All Nature’s full of Love and Play Yet harmless still if my design, Tis but to be your Valentine.’

The vintage card belongs to the collection of York Museums Gallery, where Curator, Helen Thornton said: “This wonderful card is one of many Valentine’s cards in our collection but it stands out for a number of reasons.

“Firstly is its age – it is believed to be the oldest printed Valentine’s card in the world. Secondly, it is beautifully made, with intricate designs which were probably hand-coloured after printing. But just as interesting is the message inside which gives you an intriguing glimpse into the life of the sender more than 200 years ago.”

The pretty design included a portrait of the lovestruck woman, who says she has ‘repeatedly requested’ a meeting with Mr Brown, who ‘must have some reason for not complying’ with her wishes.

Catherine’s full message reads:

‘Mr Brown,

As I have repeatedly requested you to come, I think you must have some reason for not complying with my requests, but as I have something particular to say to you I could wish you make it all agreeable to come on Sunday next without fail and in doing you will oblige your well wisher.

Catherine Mossday.’

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