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As Valentine’s Day rapidly approaches, let us indulge in a brief study of the Victorian art of flirtation…

Under the watchful eye of the chaperone, young singles resorted to clandestine forms of communication to make their romantic interest known. Ladies dispatched secret signals with hand fans and gloves whereas young men distributed flirtation cards on the sly to eye-catching young women:

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Flirtation cards (aka escort or acquaintance cards) resembled calling cards in form but featured witty little rhymes and illustrations aimed at winning the fancy of their recipient. Generally, such cards requested the innocent privilege of escorting the lady of interest home:

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Some sought a name:

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Yet others were a bit more indelicate, signed by the likes of “James L. Gallas, Kissing Rouge” and “E.L. Muellich, Wholesale and Retail Dealer in Love Kisses and Up-to-date Hugs.”

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Certain cards gave specific instructions for how to respond:

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But evidently, some young ladies had their own response cards at the ready:

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Letters and symbols were playfully employed to lend an air of intrigue to the exchange:

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So there you have it, our top 10 favorite Victorian flirtation cards! And plenty of artistic inspiration for the making of this year’s valentine…

Source: “Saucy ‘Escort Cards’ Were a Way to Flirt in the victorian Era.” National Geographic. 4 Jan. 2016  <http://bit.ly/1ZKeMJd&gt;.

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