Valentines, Valentines Oh My!

Valentine’s Day has arrived on this 14th day in February. According to the Greeting Card Association 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year! One of the first Valentine Day greetings was sent in 1415. The Duke of Orleans (France) sent a written Valentine’s greeting to his wife while he was being held prisoner in the Tower of London. The Duke of Orleans fought in the battle of Agincourt.

bookscancenter_15The greeting was written in French: “Je suis desja d’amour tanne, Ma tres doulce Valentinee.” The translation for this is “I am already sick of love, my very gentle Valentine.”

Another letter was written by a woman named Margery Brews in 1477. She sent this letter to her fiancé John Paston. In her letter she wrote “right well-beloved Valentine.” This is the oldest Valentine’s letter written in the English language.


Both of these letters are in the manuscript collections at the British Library. Through the years the tradition of sending letters and cards has continued. Below is a postcard that was sent approximately between the 1940’s and 195O’s.

The first Valentine’s Day cards were sent in the 1700’s. The cards were traditionally handmade because pre-made cards were not readily available like they are today. The cards were made with decorated paper and included romantic symbols with flowers and love knots. Some people added puzzles and short poems to the cards.

Pre-printed cards were created around 1797 in Great Britain. In the early 1800’s Valentine’s Cards were extremely popular in London and it was much easier to mass produce cards because of the innovations made with printing equipment. Approximately 200,000 Valentine Cards were mailed in London by 1820.

Did you know that the Local History & Genealogy Department at the Central Library has a collection of vintage Valentine’s Day Cards?  The Valentine Card tradition was popular in the United States by 1850.

The majority of the cards were donated by Emma Swift. Emma was the department head of the Local History & Genealogy Department from 1936 to 1965.  This collection consists of early cards created by Hallmark Cards and Whitney Made Cards.

Whitney-Made Cards was a company started by George C. Whitney in Worcester, Massachusetts.  George Whitney and his family created and produced Valentine Day Cards for 77 years. The cards were made with embossed lace borders and backgrounds or a thick card stock. The cards are decorative and colorful.

The Whitney-Made Cards are stamped Whitney-Made on the backs of the cards. The card below on the left is a Whitney-Made Card. The company that created the card on the right is not identified by a stamp. It resembles a Whitney-Made Card.



Whitney-Made Card

The Hallmark Card business was created by the Hall brothers Rollie and Joyce Clyde in 1910. It was originally known as the Hall Brothers. They started their business by selling postcards. People were not buying postcards too much so the Hall Brothers decided to produce and sell high quality made Valentine Day Cards. Hallmark Cards created and produced their first Valentine’s Day card in 1913.


Hallmark Cards

The Hall Brothers decided to change their business name to Hallmark in 1928. The name hallmark was used by the goldsmiths, which meant “mark of quality”. Since the name hallmark included hall and meant quality, Joyce Clyde fancied the name.

Here are more cards for you to enjoy viewing that are located in the Valentine Day Card collection.

Renee Kendrot




Published in: on February 14, 2017 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

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