Expressions and tokens of love are never out of fashion, of course, but the tradition of sending cards to someone we love through the post grew rapidly – with cheap postage – from the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1863 the Postmaster General reported that 430,000 valentines passed through the London office alone and added that he saw “ no tendency to abandon” the practice. He wasn’t an old kill-joy but was a bit worried about the greatly increased mail volumes and the extra costs they imposed on the Post Office. The card displayed here, published by the firm of Ernest Nister, is from our archive and is a nice early twentieth example of a picture valentine where the message is conveyed in a rather cute combination of words and pictures.
Keen to do our own bit to keep romance alive, we will have our Museum in the GPO open free on Valentine’s Day this year and visitors who enter a little competition there will have the chance to win one of our new stamp mugs depicting – what else? – a love stamp!