This valentine was auctioned in New York eight years ago for over $13000. It dates from the early nineteenth century. Quite unlike the rather more mundane paper valentine cards so popular today, this is a double mahogany frame in which dozens of shells have been carefully arranged to send a message of love to a lucky recipient.
On the left, the shells form the shape of a heart topped with a rose, a pair of symbols that can hardly be misinterpreted as anything but adoring. However, should there be any room for confusion the artist has decided to be absolutely clear in the message they wish to send and really highlights the point in the opposite frame. Here on the right, the message Forget Me Not has been carefully picked out in colourful seashells with another heart to seal the deal, leaving this is a most romantic token to be gazed at and cherished whenever the lovers concerned are parted.
This is an utterly beguiling little artefact that marks a moment in history. Though we cannot know the story of this shell-studded valentine, I do hope it ended more happily than some of the tales I tell here at the Guide!