The State Library held a Valentine’s exhibition in 1951 which, according to the Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of Victoria, consisted of a small display on a ‘topical interest’.

A lace collage from the Library's Picture's collection

To one I love, H93.29/196

An embossed paper collage from the Library's Picture Collection

Do embark with me, H93.29/188

The Argus, 10 February 1951

We also held another exhibition exploring the mocking of the Valentine tradition in 1991, titled Funny Valentines. Mock valentines originated in the early 19th century and as this letter in the The Argus confirms, were still continuing in the 1880s. J Crossbred writes, ‘All I’m wantin to say is that I would like rale well to see a raid made by the police on them mock valentines as disgraces the winders of many otherwise respectable shops.’

The Funny Valentine exhibition explored the practice of sending anonymous and mocking valentines, often to persons of authority, such as clerks and policemen, as the following verse shows, which is taken from a card in the Library’s Pictures Collection:

Oh! Man of blue, you cut me through,
Oh! Lobster of deceit
How oft with you I’ve shared my tea
And given thee many a treat

Judging from the Library’s collection, men received more mock Valentines than women and some, as the below illustrates, were quite harsh, comparing men to animals;

I do compare thee to a mongrel dog
A common creature, and a cur low-bred,
With no more manners than a hog…

An example of a mock valentine card from the Library's collection.

In 2000, the Library purchased fifteen Hallmark Valentines cards which were on sale on February 14. These compliment our older cards, which you can view online.

Written by Paul Dee
Librarian, Australia History and Literature Team





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