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Mike Henbrey’s Vinegar Valentines

July 6, 2015
by the gentle author

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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4 Responses leave one →
  1. July 6, 2015

    Interesting. I had never heard of these before, and it seems to me that they tell us more about the person who sent them than about the poor unfortunate recipient!

  2. Ros permalink
    July 6, 2015

    Good Lord, these knock being unfriended on Facebook into the shade. And several of them distinctly ribald too. Well, I guess it’s good to be reminded that not all Victorians were into sentimentality!

  3. Naomi permalink
    July 6, 2015

    Victorian trolling!

  4. July 14, 2015

    Funny! Some these express my thoughts precisely on the whole notion of Valentine’s Day

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