Sunday, February 3, 2013

Valentines Through the Ages:

Antique valentine's are fun to collect and over the years I have had a lot of fun collecting them. Whatever your particular taste, there is a type of valentine for you.  Perhaps one made of fancy paper lace, or a honeycomb card appeals to you, maybe mechanical valentines with moving parts, cut outs, 3-D or just valentines from your childhood.  So many different kinds!  I enjoy the artistry, the romance, and of course, the whimsy. I look everywhere; antique shows, friends and family, shops, auctions, estate sales, and  flea markets.  Once I found a whole collection at a flea market, but the vendor was nowhere around.  I paced, I waited, and I looked at all the nearby tables.  In the end I was rewarded.  She sold them all to me for a dollar a piece and she threw in some extra ones that she had tucked way under the table.  A compensation for my patience, she said.  I love displaying my valentines every year. They are very fragile and must be handled with care, but for one month a year, February, they fill the house with beauty and messages of love.  What fun!

Valentine Fan
This is a 1890's fan valentine.  It says Saint Valentine's Day on the back. Valentine fans played a significant role at a party or a dance in the Victorian Era.  A lady with a fan could signal to a potential suitor.  A touch to her lips with the handle signaled the possibility of a kiss.  The fan held just below her eyes signaled, regretfully, no.

Hearts...A Love Token
This heart has 3 pages and each page has 4 sections containing inspirational messages. The lucky lady that received this card could carry it with her and occasionally read a message to reminded her of the special person that gave her the valentine.

Embossed, Paper Lace Valentine
These Valentines consisted of several layers, a card covered with paper lace, a pretty picture and maybe a small object that sprang out from the card. They often contained a poem on the inside of the card.  The paper lace is very fragile.

The first mass-produced valentines in America were made by Esther A. Howland in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the 1840's. Known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” Esther  used  ribbons, lace and colorful pictures to make her elaborate valentines.

Flat Valentines
These cards were often found in many different shapes and sizes with a picture on the front. Sometimes there was a message on the back and sometimes there wasn't. These were non-opening valentines that were embossed and printed on heavy card stock.

Honeycomb Cards
These cards have an area of honeycomb issue paper that folds open to form an object or shape.  Honeycomb cards are often fold out or cut outs cards as well. 

3-D Cards
These cards have a cut out section that folds back giving the valentine a 3-D appearance. They date from the late 1800's to 1930's. The early ones were manufactured in Germany.


Fold-Out or Dimensional Card
These cards have a section that folds down allowing the card to stand up. They often have figures or shapes that pop out and sometimes more than one layer. 

Valentine Card
These cards were sent in the mail or hand delivered to people you wanted to remember on Valentine's Day. Valentine cards have been given to loved ones for hundreds of years 

Valentines date back to the 1400’s. The first known Valentine was written by the Duke of Orleans.  He sent his wife a poem while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later, King Henry had a poet write poems that the king gave to Catherine of Valois  as Valentines. Today, Valentine's Day is the second most celebrated holiday in the world.

Cut-Out Cards
These cards have pieces cut out to show positive and negative space.  They range from simple designs to very fancy designs.

Stand-up Cards
These cards have a thick paper tab in the back that holds the valentine upright.

Mechanical Cards
Mechanical valentines became popular between 1895-1930's. These cards have a movable part so that the valentine holds a surprise. This wheel spins with pretty colors. Some other surprises might be eyes that open & shut, a hidden message, or an animal that appears when you move the tab in the back. Later mechanical cards were less elaborate than cards from the Victorian period

Unfortunately the uniqueness of these cards led them to be played with, causing them to deteriorate more quickly than other types of valentines. This makes them harder to find. Collectors seek out these scarce mechanical valentines.

Folded Cards
These cards stand on there own when unfolded to reveal the inside.


Cross-over Valentines
Cross-over valentines combined elements of the other types of valentines. This card is a mechanical because by moving the lever on the back the girl appears. It has a honeycomb gazebo and fold out sides. Several cut-outs are seen throughout.
It is easy to get started collecting vintage and antique valentine cards. Ask relatives to share old family collections, shop online, visit flea markets or antique malls. Remember romance and your true love this Valentine's Day with an antique valentine card. Head over to Reuzeit Emporium to find that special valentine card or vintage valentine gift. Check out Valentines on Display to view different ideas for displaying these antique valetines in your own home.

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