Wednesday, 8 February 2012

History of the American Valentine

Photograph by me ChristineB
In the late 1800's an American woman named Esther Howland started making valentines after receiving her first elaborate English Valentine from her father's business associate.  Esther's family operated the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Esther convinced her father to order imported lace and floral embelishments from England and New York City.

Soon she began taking orders for Valentines.  As the demand for her romantic valentines grew, Esther hired her friends to help her run her assembly-line business. 

Esther placed her first business ad in a Massachusetts newspaper (The Daily Spy) on February 5, 1850, (162 years ago).  Her Valentine Card business grew to be a $100,000 a year business making Esther a very wealthy woman.

Esther's Valentines are now collector's items and are recognized for their lacy designs and fine details. Her Valentines had multiple layers, lift-up flaps, accordian springs, die cuts and embossed flowers.  Personal verses were placed inside the cards.

This is one of Esther's Valentines.
Esther Howland Valentine circa 1850

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