I don’t doubt that since the beginning of human history, lovers have found a way to send each other notes of their love. But Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending notes, sometimes in verse. By then, too, the heart was a symbol of love. In the mid 17th century, Samuel Pepys recorded the celebration, including gift giving among the wealthier members of society.
|Geoffrey Chaucer “Courtly Love”|
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.
By the time we arrive in Regency England, nearly three decades later, the romantic communications would have been handwritten on ordinary writing paper and may have included verse and other small items of sentimental value. Writing paper could have been procured from Hatchard’s Book Shop and other shops that stocked such items. The love notes would have been exchanged between only unmarried adults, unlike today when we send Valentines to everyone.
|Hatchard's Book Shop|