St Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics and beekeepers! He was a Roman priest and physician who suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians by the emperor Claudius II Gothicus in about 270. According to legend, St. Valentine signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended and healed from blindness.

It is, however, the British that can be blamed for the commercialisation of Saint Valentine. With the introduction of a cheaper postal service, the sending of Valentines Cards became popular in the 19th Century, with an estimated 200,000 cards sent in London alone by the mid 1820’s.

But not all Valentines cards were of the romantic sort. ‘Vinegar Valentines’ were available to buy and were sent to insult and often had an equally insulting verse inside, such as this one titled ‘Miss Nosey’;

On account of your talk of others’ affairs
At most dances you sit warming the chairs.
Because of the care with which you attend
To all others’ business you haven’t a friend.

 

Whether you intend to spoil your beloved with a romantic card, flowers and chocolates or send out a ‘Vinegar Valentine’ check out our top ten Valentines makes below.