In a world full of dating apps and divorces, it’s easy to look back on the courtship practices of the past through rose-colored lenses. While now, it’s all “butt stuff on the first date,” a suitor back then would win you over with charm, chivalry, and Valentines featuring creepy fat babies. (And if that didn’t work, he—and it would be a “he” because being gay could get you thrown in prison—could force you into marriage anyway. Aw, old fashioned romance!)

While there are many perks to living in the here and now (iPhones! Nicer toilets! A place in the job market!), looking back to the past can be very good fun. Which is why this February 14th, you should spend some time exploring the New York Public Library’s collection of archived Valentines.

There’s a Valentine for the woman you like to watch sleep in the park:

Valentines for the woman you might not love forever. Or, alternately, the woman who is deeply in love with a doll.

A Valentine for the artist who wants this chubby, porny Cupid in their life.

(If you give this card to someone and they’re into it, call the police!)

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And best of all, a lot of them already come with inscriptions, so you don’t even have to be creative.

Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day to the New York Public Library’s digital archive (yet another reason to love living in the here and now).


Contact the author at madeleine@jezebel.com.

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Images via the NYPL.