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Valentine's Day cards carry special flavor

By Stephanie Oehlert

I have always loved Valentine's Day cards from the Victorian era. Victorians really knew how to express their love with fancy, flowery designs and beautiful romantic images.

I sometimes make my own cards inspired by Victorian valentines, and I also collect some unique antique examples. Recently, while looking at some beautiful cards, I discovered a category of Victorian valentines that I hadn't heard of before called “vinegar valentines.”

These cards were sent to just about anyone someone didn't like. They ranged from mildly insulting to aggressive and mean. They often had caricatures and pointed out the recipient’s shortcomings. Someone might send one to make it clear he or she wasn’t romantically interested. For example, one card read, "To My Valentine: 'Tis a lemon that I hand you and bid you now skidoo, Because I love another — there is no chance for you.”

I guess it doesn't get clearer than that! Victorians sure did have a different mindset about how to handle things. These vinegar valentines are interesting to look for and read, but I wouldn't want to receive one!

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