Valentine's Day is a special day set aside to shower a beloved with gifts and proclamations of love. Greeting cards are the most common way for a secret or open admirer to express affection on February 14, the date assigned to Valentine's Day. Mass production of intricate greeting cards started in earnest in the 1840s when an artistic woman named Esther A. Howland crafted cards from scraps of ribbon, lace and images (History.com). Valentine’s Day cards from earlier times are popular collectibles. Like other ephemera, Valentines reflect the social sensibilities and design aesthetic of their respective age. Take a closer look at what makes Valentines from yesteryear especially desirable.
Die cuts and paper lace
Simple and complex die cuts add interest to Valentine cards. Common figural cards showcase die-cut cupids, hearts and cherubic faced children. To imitate the earliest handmade Valentines that used real lace, inventive printers created intricate die-cuts. Printed images of lace offered a less expensive alternative.
Raised lettering and design elements add dimension and desirability to Valentine's cards. Embossed elements may also be enhanced with touches of gold.
Mechanical and honeycomb
Mechanical cards feature pull-out and/or pull-down mechanisms that allow the card to expand. They also may include levers that enable motion to enhance the message. Stiff re-positionable strips of cardboard help the card stand independently for display. Tissue-paper honeycombs add dimension in a very desirable albeit delicate way.
Old Valentine’s Day cards include all manner of expressions of love, admiration and desire—from sweet to fierce, exuberant to melancholic, innocent to perverse. If you have a slightly twisted sense of humor, you might enjoy BuzzFeed’s collection of Weird And Creepy Vintage Valentine’s Day Cards.
Why not give your loved one a vintage Valentine this year? In 2017, the holiday falls on Tuesday, February 14.
Find vintage Valentine’s Day cards in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Learn about our recent discoveries and what captures our imagination in this blog, then peruse the treasures in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Brought to you by...
... Susan Buie, writer by day, vintage curator and co-proprietor of the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay in all the moments in between.