The APRL recently received a donated box of greeting cards from the first half of the 20th century. Most of them are Christmas cards, but among them are several valentines.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share a few images of these cards with you. Click on the small images in this post to see larger images.
The first image is a valentine with a postal theme – natural, given that many Valentines were mailed to the recipients. This one is printed on folded card stock with a heart-shaped cutout.
The second image is a card made by Hall Brothers, which later became Hallmark. It features a fish on the cover and opens to reveal another fish with a three-dimensional mouth.
Because most of these cards have been removed from their envelopes, it’s difficult to guess the year they were made. However, given the name “Hall Brothers” printed on the back of this card, we can deduce that it was produced between 1915, when the company began producing greeting cards for Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and 1928, when the company began using the name “Hallmark” on the back of its cards (Hallmark Cards, Inc., 100 Years of Hallmark History).
The last image is a card for a mother adorned with a real red ribbon and opening to reveal a short poem. The back of the card reads “DA 308 Made in U.S.A.”
If you are interested in reading more about the history of valentines, the APRL has two books available for loan:
Lee, Ruth Webb. A history of valentines. Wellesley Hills, MA: Lee Publications, 1952. HE6184 .V159 L479h
Staff, Frank. The valentine & its origins. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1969. HE6184 .V159 S779v 1969b
Of course, February 14 always brings to mind love stamps, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum posted a gallery of love stamps on its Facebook page today.
The APRL would like to send some Valentine’s Day love out to everyone who donates special collections like these cards to us, and to Scott Tiffney, a new volunteer who took a break from a book cataloging project to sort through the box of cards and organize them by subject. Most of the cards are from the U.S. and Japan, but other countries are also represented, and some are still in their envelopes.