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To Have and To Hold: Valentines from the Victorian Era

Jan 28, 2024 - Mar 31, 2024

Organized by: The Dixon Gallery and Gardens

While the Feast of St. Valentine has been observed on February 14 since the early Roman martyr’s canonization in the year 496, the day did not come to be associated with romantic love until the Middle Ages. The practice of sending love notes, or valentines, to loved ones dates to at least the sixteenth century, but it gained widespread popularity in the nineteenth century, particularly in England during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819 – 1902). In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, factory-made cards made sending beautiful and increasingly intricate messages of love an attainable luxury.

To Have and To Hold showcases and celebrates the artistry of these paper love tokens, highlighting technologies such as chromolithography, embossing, and paper lace. The charming valentines on view in this small exhibition range from the romantic to the child-like and are sure to delight visitors of all ages during the season of love.