Valentine's 150 Years Ago | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

This week on The Archive we have added 89,160 brand new pagescovering England, Wales, Ireland and IndiaWe continue to augment our newspaper collection with five brand new titles joining us this week, which cover the north and the south of England (Northumberland and Somerset, as well as one new title for Staffordshire), Wales and India. Meanwhile, we are adding new pages to the seminal Madras Courier and the historic Westminster Gazette, as well as adding new pages to Tipperary’s Midland Counties Advertiser.

Undergoing a few name changes over the years, one of our new titles the Blyth News began publication on the 9 May 1874 as the Blyth Illustrated Weekly News. Published on a Saturday, twenty years later the publication appeared twice weekly, and changed its name to the Blyth Bi-Weekly News. But by 1900 it reverted to weekly publication and was known as the Blyth News, and it now forms part of the News Post Leader.

Blyth News | 10 February 1877

Another of our new regional titles this week is the Somerset Standard, which was published in Frome on a weekly basis from 1886 to 1981. Rounding off our new English titles this week is Staffordshire’s Burton Chronicle. Founded by printer Joseph Tresise, who had formed his own printing company in 1859, the Burton Chronicle was a weekly publication. The Tresise family still run a printing company in Burton upon Trent to this day.

We are delighted this week to welcome a new Welsh title to our collection, namely the Merthyr Express. This weekly newspaper circulated in the iron producing areas of South Wales from 1864, and was published and printed in Merthyr Tydfil with a focus on local news.

Merthyr Express | 19 March 1870

Our final new title this week is the historic Friend of India and Statesman. One of India’s earliest English-language newspapers, it was founded in 1818 as the Friend of India. Merging with rival the Englishman in 1875, it then became The Statesman. Published in Serampore (West Bengal) every Thursday morning, it was a popular journal which covered a range of topics, including Indian current affairs and international news. It ran features on vernacular language, education, literature, missionaries, industries and performing arts, as well as printing the Calcutta Stock and Share List.

Friend of India and Statesman | 8 January 1852

Our updated titles this week include another historic Indian newspaper, the Madras Courier, to which we have added the year 1799. We have also added new pages to the influential Westminster Gazette, and the weekly Irish title Midland Counties Advertiser

Valentine’s Day 150 Years Ago

Valentine’s Day in 1870, 150 years ago, was one of ‘blinding snowfall and gusty wind,’ according to the Penny Illustrated Paper. But how did people celebrate the occasion? Our new title, the Friend of India and Statesman, gives a glimpse of what was on offer in British-occupied Calcutta (Kolkata), headquarters of the East India Company

An advertisement for Messrs Thacker, Spink & Co on the 20 January 1870 promises a ‘very choice selection of Valentines,’ indeed, ‘the choicest in Calcutta.’ You could expect to find in their possession ‘handsomely painted’ Valentines, ‘consisting of Emblematic Flowers, Wreaths, Figures, Tender Verses, Cupids, Hearts, Love Tokens, Affection’s Offerings.’ ‘Early inspection’ was encouraged for this stock, which was ‘also very appropriate for Scrap Books and Albums.’

Friend of India and Statesman | 20 January 1870

It was Geoffrey Chaucer who gave St Valentine’s day its association with romantic love; and it was in the nineteenth century that the celebration became the commercial one that we recognise today. The giving of Valentine’s cards became big business – as evidenced in the above advertisment in the Friend of India and Statesman.

The Penny Illustrated Paper describes the influx of deliveries back in England:

What a morning for Cupid’s postman! Just look at him, as he toils up our crescent as early as eight o’cock, after hours maybe of sorting and packing those bulky missives! As though Cupid were sportively pelting him with mites of snowballs…

Waiting for the Postman | Illustrated Times | 19 February 1870

Meanwhile, the Graphic also focuses on the arrival of the post, the ladies of the household gathering around to see what Valentine’s messages are to be received. You can discover more about Valentine’s Day through the ages by reading our special blog here.

St Valentine’s Day | Graphic | 12 February 1870

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New Titles
Years Added
Burton Chronicle 1866-1869, 1871-1895, 1897, 1909, 1912-1914
Merthyr Express 1864-1867, 1869-1870
Friend of India and Statesman 1852-1863, 1865-1876
Blyth News 1877-1881, 1883-1894, 1896-1897
Somerset Standard 1915-1931
Updated Titles

This week we have updated three of our existing titles.

You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.

Years Added
Midland Counties Advertiser 1876-1880, 1883-1884, 1886-1891
Madras Courier 1799
Westminster Gazette 1923-1924, 1927-1928

You can keep up to date with all the latest additions by visiting the recently added page.  You can even look ahead to see what we’re going to add tomorrow.


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