Anyone still searching for that perfect Valentine’s Day card should consider looking in Etwall, Derbyshire, as on Friday (14 February) one of the world’s oldest Valentine’s letters will go up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers.
The centuries-old beautifully illustrated love letter was sent on February 14, 1818 to a Miss L Shafe, of White Row, Spitalfields, London. As well as a central romantic verse within a hand-painted gilt love heart, it has an embossed floral border and a vibrant watercolour floral border surmounted by two gilt doves and a heart pierced with crossed arrows. It bears the manufacturer’s watermark, Dobbs 1815, and its original red sealing wax.
While the guide price is £600-£800 when it comes to matters of the heart these special items invariably exceed expectations.
Under the title ‘An affectionate Pledge of Unfeigned Attachment’ are the romantic words: ‘From him who upon the return of another Valentine’s Day, looks forward with pleasure to the time when his hopes may be realised; & at the altar of Hymen (Greek god of love) he shall receive the hand accompanied with the heart of her for whom he feels – not a wild and romantic love, which abates after a short acquaintance – but an affection which time increases rather than diminishes.’
Commenting, Jim Spencer, works on paper specialist at Hansons, said: “What a sensible chap. No flash-in-the-pan passion for him. It’s a Valentine message worthy of a Jane Austen novel. Perhaps his message to Miss Shafe offers us the secret of lasting love – an affection which gradually increases over time. We’ll never know if he won her heart by his admission of not feeling wild passion, but I hope he did.”
For the last 20 years the beautiful Valentines, that would have been sent when George III was on the throne, has been carefully stored in an album and protected from sunlight by London-based collector Gavin Littaur.
“I’m a bit of a romantic and just talking about this Valentine rekindles my love for it. It’s beautiful – exceptionally so, in fact. One of the reasons I’m selling it now is to show the collecting world what an outstanding early Valentine really looks like,” said Gavin. He feels “Collecting is a bit like a marriage. The most passionate moment is the first time you see something special, like this Valentine. It’s also very satisfying, when one actually acquires the item. But, over time, the intense excitement gradually fades. Though I like to look at the Valentine and occasionally show it to friends, when you have owned something for decades the time comes when you want others to enjoy it, while you are still around.”
This historic love token goes under the hammer exactly a year after what is believed to be the world’s oldest Valentine’s Day card (dating back to 1790) was sold by the auction house to PG’s Jakki Brown. The news was picked up by the media all over the world. https://www.pgbuzz.net/worlds-oldest-valentines-card-auctioned-today-for-7200/