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Valentine's Day ads

Friday, February 12, 2010

I can't say that these are all the most beautiful and romantic ads I've ever seen, but they're all from February 14ths throughout the nineteenth century. I found lots of V-day ads, but you'd be surprised how many of them were actually kind of depressing ("I still love you; why don't you love me? Wah!"). So I've picked out a few of the ones that I liked the best.

M.O.D.V. - Yesterday, to-day and forever! You know my heart, love! All for you. Antique.

Paolo - I love you, my darling, and "Hope;" "True as Steel" and you, "Pet" think of me to-day; remember "Promises;" for Heaven's sake, answer; notice Sunday's personal, June 6. Francesca.

Queen. - You are the love of my life; in my future actions I will consider only that which will please you; my every thought will be to make you happy.  Unfortunate, cheerful, faithful.  Forever your King.

They say that absence conquers love;
Has it already conquered thine?
The future, like the past, will prove
Me thy true, faithful Valentine

See what I mean? 

So, Valentine's Day has a pretty long history, which I won't go into because it's all there for you on Wikipedia or, I'm sure, a bazillion other websites.  What's interesting in the context of my research is that despite the fact people were using newspaper personals to send each other little love letters for decades, they didn't really start using personals for Valentine's Day ads until about the 1870s.  I can't explain why.  I started to find a fair number around the mid-1870s, but even then, there were years where there wasn't a single correspondence ad on February 14 that mentioned the holiday. 

I also assumed that I'd start finding matrimonial ads that mentioned Valentine's Day, and other than one that I posted back in May, I didn't find a single one.  Obviously, I do not have easy access to every single paper that printed personal ads, and I also only have so much time to look even in the ones I can get to, so I'm sure there are plenty out there that I don't know about.  But it still did strike me as odd.  Since online dating websites see increased visits around Valentine's Day, I'd have expected the same to be true back in the day.

Anyway, I don't normally post on weekends, but check back Sunday; unless something goes disastrously wrong, I have a special treat for you.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2010 Pam Epstein


Melynda Huskey February 17, 2010 at 2:57 AM  

Paolo and Francesca's ad is particularly charming: Dante's P & F fell in love over a book of chivalry, and all the words in quotation marks are the titles of popular novels of the period, e.g. *True as Steel,* by Marion Harland (1878). Maybe the shared a library card?

Pam February 17, 2010 at 7:50 AM  

Wow - I am such an idiot for not making the Paolo & Francesca connection to Dante! That is adorable! Thank you for pointing that out!

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