Valentine’s Day Card
Verses and Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, when lovers said or sang their valentines. Written valentines began to appear after 1400. The oldest “valentine” in existence was made in the 1400’s and is in the British Museum.
Paper valentines were exchanged in Europe where they were given in place of valentine gifts. Paper valentines were especially popular in England. Early valentines were made by hand and were made with colored paper, watercolors, and colored inks.
There were many different types of handmade valentines, including:
Acrostic valentines: had verses in which the first lines spelled out the loved one’s name.
Cutout valentines: made by folding the paper several times and then cutting out a lacelike design with small, sharp, pointed scissors.
Pinprick valentines: made by pricking tiny holes in a paper with a pin or needle. creating the look of lace.
Theorem or Poonah valentines: designs that were painted through a stencil cut in oil paper, a style that came from the Orient.
Rebus valentines: verses in which tiny pictures take the place of some of the words. (an eye would take the place of the word I).
Puzzle Purse valentines: a folded puzzle to read and refold. Among their many folds were verses that had to be read in a certain order.
Fraktur valentines: had ornamental lettering in the style of illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.
In the early 1800’s, valentines began to be assembled in factories. Early manufactured valentines were black and white pictures that were painted by workers in a factory. Fancy valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid 1800’s. By the end of the 1800’s valentines were being made entirely by machine.
In the early 1900’s a card company named Norcross began to manufacture valentines. Each year Hallmark displays its collection of rare and antique valentines at card shops around the country. Museums and Libraries also offer antique valentine exhibitions around St. Valentine’s Day.