Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love From the Past

My love of ephemera naturally attracts me to old Valentines. I would like to share with you some of my favorite Valentines. Lets escape back in time and take a peek at the culture, style and language from the past. These Valentines give us a glimpse of our ever changing society over the years.

This is an example of a pop-up Valentine from 1900 and printed in Germany. The forget-me-knot flowers, birds and ships were common themes for German made cards of this time period. The red heart was rarely used.

A later version of a pop-up Valentine also printed in Germany with the following sentiment on the underside.
To My Valentine!
I love you and you love me
But let me say it once again
I am yours and you are mine
Sweethearts- all the time!

An early "mechanical" Valentine with a moving sail was printed in Bavaria for
Ernest Nister, London. Early 1900's

This Valentine was made by the Whitney Manufacturing Company of Worchester,Massachusetts, an early American manufacture of children's Valentines. Grace Gebbie Wiederseim Drayton drew children such as this one for the Campbell Soup Company from 1904 to 1924. As a very prolific artist, her work often appeared unsigned. Her sister, Margaret Gebbie Hays, wrote the verses that accompanied her work. This design is very similar to Drayton's work, if not her work.

The verse inside reads:
Dear little Valentine speed on your way
Carry a message for me to-day
If only the postman could take me too
Dear sweetheart, how quickly I'd come to you.

This Valentine was printed in the USA and signed 2-14-36.
The inside sentiment reads:
Dan Cupid's dart has pierced my heart-
And you're the reason why;
That's why I wait without your gate,
And hope for your reply!

A vintage ski motif printed by the Carrington Co. of Chicago, ILL.
signed 1933 says:
Don't keep your heart clear out of reach
I want it to be mine
Because I think you are a peach-
So be my Valentine.

These 1930's Valentines depict adorable children and animals. All printed in the USA.

A stand up Valentine with a red-cheeked little girl baking some sweets for you.

A mid-century Valentine featuring a book of matches , a time when smoking was glamorized.
The inside verse reads:
We'd make a fine " Match "
My Valentine!

A little Valentine History...

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.
In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

Reprinted from

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