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Valentines — The Language of Love 
Nancy Rosin © 2001

1. Introduction
For more than twenty-five years, Valentines have been a passion for me — and I have constantly sought examples of virtually every kind that exists! Each acquisition seemed to lead to another, and each was a piece of the puzzle that I was assembling. In this article, I hopeto convey to the "Valentine audience" the history and beauty of these treasures I collect, as well as the enduring passion which has led me to seek the rare and unusual, as well as the most simple, unassuming tokens. Through my articles, my lectures, and my video, I believe that I am helping to make the public more aware of the fascinating story of the Valentine. By presenting information about the early history, the evolution of the Valentine, and some of the varieties that exist, I hope to further establish them as a sophisticated, intellectual subject, important as social documentary, and worthy of scholarly recognition as a serious research and collecting area. Messages of love span the centuries, and are interwoven with culture to create a very poignant view of history and the people who lived during those times.

Paper collectibles are often known as "ephemera" - a broad word used to include items, which were meant to be "ephemeral", or not long lasting, and often discarded. While Valentines are included in this broad category, I truly believe that most were intended to be cherished and saved — and never meant to have a transitory quality. Collectors and historians recognize the importance of this memorabilia in adding the personal details to history. Learning about people and events by studying such treasures is a key to completing the picture of the people who lived through those events. In reading a love note so carefully and beautifully written in Spencerian script on the interior page of a delicate Valentine, or perhaps simply by holding in your hand a primitive fraktur of the Pennsylvania Germans, one discovers a common denominator, that they were created out of love, cherished, saved, and handed down to us as nearly-sacred mementos. I can't think of a more wonderful thing to collect! Additionally, their broad range provides opportunities for collectors of all levels, interests, and pocketbooks.

The challenge of finding representative examples became a driving force in the creation of my truly comprehensive collection. To say that it was a passion is an understatement! It became a hobby shared with my husband during our antique journeys around the country, and once the children were grown, a reason for a number of European explorations to auctions and flea markets! Starting with a small display in a wall case at our local elementary school, and an article written about it by a school parent for a shopper newspaper, my interest became further encouraged. I developed programs and displays as the hobby took on a life of its' own! Now, many years later, the numerous magazine articles and major events have enabled me to share the passion with an increasingly fascinated audience. People don't realize that Valentine's Day was such a significant social event, enjoyed by every strata of society, and celebrated extensively. Businesses thrived on it, as they capitalized on the passion of the population by creating a wide array of Valentine articles. Gifts of jewelry, lingerie, perfume, fans, and magnificent Valentines on elegant lace paper - as well as scathing satire on cheap paper for another audience -- were only some of the options. Handmade cut-paper or collages of woven hair and silk ribbons, hand-embellished watch papers to set within the case of a pocket watch, and shell-encrusted fantasies brought by sailors from distant shores - are just a few of the Valentine treasures one can still find.

Read More:http://www.ephemerasociety.org/articles/rosin.html

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Replies to This Discussion

History of Valentine Cards VIDEO on the History Channel: "From the first mail-posted Valentine on record in 1806 to some of the precursors to today's Valentines, Nancy Rosin's 10,000 piece collection is a chronicle of the world's social history of love."

Valentine Cards - History.com

Time to read the Language of LOVE again!! :)

Nancy Rosin is THE expert in antique valentines! Her collection is amazing! Click here to enter the world of  a Victorian Treasury

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