Monday, 8 February 2010

'Grant me thy dear smiles'

Sigh. I haven't been doing very well at this 'Play a Day' thing, have I? Actually being in plays has left me with less time to write about them than I had anticipated, or to do much else, for that matter. I have been rushing around half-finishing everything, letting every one down - including you, blog-readers. I was feeling rather blue about this when I happened to pass this miniature Aladdin's cave of a bookshop...

... and was tempted in by their promise of Victorian Valentines. I had never even heard of Victorian Valentines before, but have now become slightly obsessed with them. It seems that the introduction of the penny post in 1840 facilitated the sending of anonymous declarations of love. This shop has an impressive selection, and I was interested not find one with a personal greeting written in it. The sentiments they expressed were also intriguing - a number of them featured pictures of children, and one had a verse that referred to the recipient of the card as 'though on the eve of womanhood/ In heart a very child.' There were also several 'sweet comic valentines', including one with a lower flap which lifted to reveal the dangers of refusing suitors for too long: a wizened spinster shivering by a fire. 

I couldn't resist the chance to own a little bit of romantic history. I chose this one, bustling with paper lace and d├ęcoupage flowers and cupids, with its modest and slightly wonkily printed request pictured above.

I wonder if it has a story - if its original recipient did indeed grant her dear smiles (or anything else...). Anyway, it is a cheery presence on my desk on this grey, drizzly Monday.


  1. That's such a fantastic looking little shop. I love the cards, they remind me of the episode in Cranford when Valentine Day's cards were taken very seriously.

  2. I had a look at the Valentines in the window after Seb & I left the cafe - they're lovely, but horrifically expensive! So I had to leave them all there. But they are an interesting discovery. I'll definitely keep an eye out for a mountain of the things if I get any work at the Fitzwilliam...


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