Saturday, February 13, 2016

American Valentine's Day Cards History

Sweet little messages on paper delivered on or before Valentine's Day have been exchanged for a quite a while!  Now, we can create our own cards with messages written by hand or with the aid of a computer/ printer or we purchase commercial cards in stores.  Have you ever been curious about when cards for this special occasion were available for sale in the United States?

As so many of you know, I enjoy learning about history.  Living in Massachusetts I've learned so much about my state's history & also the beginning of our country.  Every so often I learn another interesting tidbit about the little things & their beginnings.

This is true regarding Valentine's Day cards.

Valentine's Day cards were made in Europe.  They could be imported to the United States in the 19th century.   

Esther Howland was a 1847 graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Western Massachusetts.  She had received an English Valentine's Day card from a friend & decided to make one herself.  Her father was a stationer in Worcester, MA & that helped get her started.  Esther was able to have her father import fancy paper to use in making her cards.  She hired women to "mass produce" these fancy Valentine's Day cards for this special occasion.  She never married, but she successfully ran the New England Valentine Company until she retired.     

In Grafton, MA, Jotham W. Taft worked for a stationer.  While he was in Europe on business for his employer he saw the beautiful ornate Valentine's Day cards that were given to "that special person" on this day.  After purchasing supplies in Germany, he returned home.  He & his wife went to work making Valentine's Day cards.  In 1844 he had a growing business.  Women living in Worcester, MA were hired to work in his shop making these cards.                

Yes, there are more details to this story.  To read more, visit these links:

"Vintage Valentines" at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.

Visit "Esther Howland" on the Mount Holyoke College website.

Enjoy reading these fascinating stories this weekend!  History is interesting!   

~Happy Valentine's Day!!!~


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