Mike Henbrey’s Vinegar Valentines
Inveterate collector, Mike Henbrey has been acquiring harshly-comic nineteenth century Valentines for more than twenty years.
Mischievously exploiting the anticipation of recipients on St Valentine’s Day, these grotesque insults couched in humorous style were sent to enemies and unwanted suitors, and to bad tradesmen by workmates and dissatisfied customers. Unsurprisingly, very few have survived which makes them incredibly rare and renders Mike’s collection all the more astonishing.
“I like them because they are nasty,” Mike admitted to me with a wicked grin, relishing the vigorous often surreal imagination at work in his cherished collection – of which a small selection are published here today for the first time – revealing a strange sub-culture of the Victorian age.
Images copyright © Mike Henbrey Collection
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