Whether you love or hate the holiday, receiving a card on Valentine’s Day from your special someone is always exciting! This tradition of passing a note to one’s Valentine with embellished hearts and flowers has been around since the early 18th century. In Great Britain, small gifts and handwritten notes were exchanged until the early 1800s when printed cards replaced letters. The earliest Valentine known was a poem written by the Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 AD. By the 1830s, the accessibility of paper and a postal system boosted the availability of Valentine cards in the public. In 1847, Esther Howland, the mother of Valentine cards, received an elaborate English Valentine inspiring her to create her own Valentine card business to sell. In fact, by 1849 she had published the first American Valentine. Howland’s business of selling decorative, premade Valentine cards became so successful that she was eventually bought out by new owners who sadly closed the company in 1942 due to wartime paper shortages. In 1916, Hallmark began mass-producing fancy Valentine’s Day. The Museum of London has a collection of over 1,700 Victorian Valentine cards online (feel free to view through the link). Throughout the years, Valentine’s gifts have ranged from stuffed animals with boxes of chocolate to gold necklaces with lace letters. The idea of trading Valentine’s cards in the classroom goes back to the 19th century when cards were being mass-produced allowing easy accessibility to get multiple different cards for people. Surprisingly enough, Valentine’s day is one of the most popular holidays for Americans to send cards, second only to Christmas. The concept of sending a letter of love to someone close on February 14 has been a tradition for centuries.
This is an example of a Victorian Valentine’s card produced from 1841-1880 that reads “Oh how happy shall I be when I can dwell with thee”