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Shell Valentines

Sweet Motorist Divine

So on our sentimental map let’s trace the secret ways
And turn our wheels towards the sun, upon this day of days.
The engine murmurs its delight, the tyres hum in assent,
The radiator’s radiant, the headlamps beam content,
Starting's easy, all is well, when your tank is full of .....


Shell's love affair with Valentine cards is inextricably linked with the passion and adventure of motoring which had let loose a romantic notion of freedom for the open road in female drivers. In 1938 the company proposed and implemented the idea of sending Valentine greetings to lady customers to retain their loyalty and continued patronage.

The traditional emphasis on anonymity was maintained so that ordinary postage stamps were used instead of the company’s franking machine to secure the secrecy of the sender. The series of cards, 33 in total, were attractive designs created by artists of the day and carried humorous verses and rhymes on motoring and petrol themes. Some are positively romantic and festooned with old-world charm.

The romance blossomed throughout the next decades, apart from an interruption in the War, up until 1975, when the romantic flame began to splutter and finally die out. Changing attitudes among women customers meant they no longer appreciated being singled out as lady motorists.

For a brief period in the 20th century some lucky ladies received a magical reminder to celebrate the joy of motoring and the Festival of Love on Valentine’s Day, courtesy of Shell.

Shell Valentine


This regular feature shows special items from members’ own collections. Submissions by email should include a scan of the item.