The first Valentines card were sent in the 18th century. It was common to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes as pre-made cards were not yet available. It was the industrialisation of Britain in the 19th century and the rapid advances in manufacturing that resulted in a major change, with mass-produced printed cards gaining immense popularity, replacing simple hand written letters.
With the changes in the postal services and the introduction of the uniform Penny Post, the sending of greetings cards were bolstered further. By 1902, the Post Office allowed both the address and the message to be written on one side of the card, permitting an image to cover the other side in its entirety. Britain became the first country to introduce the ‘divided back’ postcard format we all know today.
Ready-made Valentines cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.