Saturday, February 13, 2016

History of The Valentine Cards

Tomorrow is Valentines day.  The day we exchange cards and other gifts with friends and loved ones.  We buy packs and packs of themed valentine cards for our children to share with others at school. 

Have you ever wondered how and when exchanging  valentine cards began?  Is it a modern creation or has it been around for a while?

Heart, Card, Pastels, FigureOriginally, valentine greetings were sang or recited starting back in the middle ages.  It wasn't until the 1400's that written valentines began appearing.  The oldest existing valentine from the 1400 can be viewed in the British Museum. 

By the 1700's valentines started appearing in the United States, brought in from Europe. The first valentines in the United States were actually booklets of verses and sayings that could be copied onto fancy paper and shared.  In fact, one of the booklets contained verses for men to write for their lady and responses for ladies to send back.  It wasn't until the Civil War that valentine cards became popular in America.

By the early 1800's, valentines were made in factories where t he factory workers actually colored simple black and white pictures but by the mid 1800's fancy valentines were made of real lace and ribbons.  Soon valentines included bows and arrows, cupids, and other romantic symbols.  There are examples created by lonely sailors who included shells and other exotic items from their travels.  Just to give you an idea how popular valentines were.  In 1835, 60,000 valentines were sent in the UK even though  it cost  was expensive.

What helped the valentine card market was when the United States Post Office started charging 1 penny to send something across the country. Prior to that, private carriers had to be paid a large amount to deliver these missives.  These penny cards were saved in albums and shared with each other at parties and gatherings. 

Around 1850, several artists produced fancy custom valentines.  Other companies soon followed.  
By the 1900's commercial valentines became popular and evolved into what we have today.  Often these early cards were hand tinted by women to create colored cards before the commercial colored printing was used.

Today, exchanging valentines is a multi million dollar industry.  It includes the idea fostered by the diamond industry since 1980 that any diamond jewelry shows your love.  It includes chocolate, flowers and other candies along with the cards.

I hope all of you have a wonderful valentines day tomorrow.

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