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The frills, lace, roses, cupids and sentiment are full on with antique Victorian Valentines.

Valentine's Day at Campbell House Museum

"Commemorations of St. Valentine’s Day are rooted in the distant past. In the Middle Ages the tradition of choosing a romantic partner on that particular saint's day began because it was believed that birds began mating on that day.

Yet there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the historical Saint Valentine, an early Christian martyred by the Romans, had any connections to either birds or romance." explains Robert McNamara in his article The History of the Modern St Valentine's Day Began in the Victorian...

A Discussion created to share Victorian valentines and history...

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"It seems that the writing of special notes and letters for Valentine’s Day gained widespread popularity in the 1700s. At that time the romantic missives would have been handwritten, on ordinary writing paper.

Papers made especially for Valentine greetings began to be marketed in the 1820s, and their use became fashionable in both Britain and the United States." History of Valentine Cards

"By the mid-1850s the sending of manufactured Valentine’s Day cards was popular enough that the New York Times published an editorial on February 14, 1856 sharply criticizing the practice:

"Our beaux and belles are satisfied with a few miserable lines, neatly written upon fine paper, or else they purchase a printed Valentine with verses ready made, some of which are costly, and many of which are cheap and indecent.

"In any case, whether decent or indecent, they only please the silly and give the vicious an opportunity to develop their propensities, and place them, anonymously, before the comparatively virtuous. The custom with us has no useful feature, and the sooner it is abolished the better."

Despite the outrage from the editorial writer, the practice of sending Valentines continued to flourish throughout the mid-1800s." About.com History of St Valentine's Day

And so the 'printed' valentine of the 1800's became our wonderful Victorian Valentine collectibles of today! So glad they didn't listen to this critical editor!

Well, it looks like our New England friends get the credit for getting Valentine's Day rolling! So the story goes..."an English Valentine received by a woman in Massachusetts inspired the beginnings of the American Valentine industry. Esther A. Howland, a student at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, began making Valentine cards after receiving a card produced by an English company. As her father was a stationer, she sold her cards in his store. The business grew, and she soon hired friends to help her make the cards. And as she attracted more business her hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts became the center of the American Valentine production." History

Wouldn't you like to know what that original valentine looked like? Me too!

New England gets credit for getting Valentine's Day CARDS rolling in America...that is. Esther copycatted a valentine that she got from England and the rest is history...as they say.

Even though modern Valentine's Day expressions can be sleek and witty, the pathway through history was definitely lined with lace and ribbons and all things Victorian-style-frilly.


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