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One was a Regency period Valentine, addressed to a young lady called Anna and in the form of a rebus – a puzzle with words represented by pictures – sold for £1100. Manuscript verses that accompanied it appear on the back of the frame.

The other, also shown above, is one of a framed pair of two late-Georgian Valentines bid to £4000. The intricate snowflake-like patterns on this example, decorated with doves and hearts, bear the words “Kind Girl, allow a tender youth to send these trembling lines And speake the secrets of his heart on the day of Valentine”.

The smaller, uncoloured example bore the doleful warning “If you refuse to be my wife, you will bereive me of my life, pale death at last must stand my friend, and turn my sorrows at an end”.

All of the 211 lots amassed by the renowned collector and French porcelain specialist the late Judith Howard got away. With UK and international bidding, including the US, Canada and Germany, the items generally sold above estimates to bring a hammer total of £66,000.

Specialist Eric Knowles said it was the kind of collection “the likes of which we are unlikely to ever see again”. 

The sale took place on September 26 and the buyer’s premium was 20%.

For more on the mourning material in this sale, see Auction Reports in this issue.