Valerie Jackson-Harris, chairman of the Ephemera Society and a leading dealer in ephemera, has collected antique Valentine’s Day cards since she was a child and has dealt in them for 50 years.
She has hundreds, many Victorian, at prices from £25-500.
“I am drawn to their history and, in particular, the intricate cards from the 18th century, made of paper lace which was so cleverly cut with knives before the Victorian use of cutting blades,” she says.
“In my own collection I have a tiny, framed, drawn-on-vellum Valentine’s card by the 18th century German artist Matthias Buchinger who had no hands or feet.”
Buchinger learnt to walk and perform everyday tasks and made his own devices to facilitate painting and writing, becoming an accomplished artist, a master calligrapher, magician and musician. He entertained King George I, married four times and raised 14 children.
The US has the largest numbers of Valentine’s collectors with its own dedicated association, while schoolchildren traditionally give each other small paper hearts and lollipops on the day.