Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentines from the 1860s

Here are some very ornate homemade valentines. One has a date of 1869 on the back and another has a date of 1864. I assume the others are from around the same time.

The flap on the next one opens up to show a message that reads Devoted to Thee.

This one also has a little message inside.

And this one has a tiny little rhyme on the front. I'm trying to imagine what the shops that carried all of these decorative paper supplies must have looked like.

And finally, here's the one that says Valentine's Day 1864 on the back. The valentine may not look like much, but it's interesting to imagine that during the time this valentine was created, the Civil War was raging and Abraham Lincoln would soon be re-elected as President.

A couple of these valentines also seem to have a paper size stamped on the back. It does not correspond to the measurement in inches though. Is anyone familiar with these stamps?


  1. Valentine's back in the day were simply great works of art....very lovely!

  2. That first card is really lovely, crafted with care. And the last one is sort of inadvertently contemporary- with the foliage covering the woman's face and the archway blocking part of the poem's text, it seems like a hipster ironic take on love, or perhaps the loss of...

  3. Amazing diecuts and filigree. Surprised how well these have held up!

  4. These are amazing! I wish we still could buy Valentines like these....or make them. I saw a show of Valentines very similar to these when in NYC a year ago.....

  5. wow, are these gorgeous. I love that poem to Miss Maggie.

  6. Highly detailed and extremely old! Nice to think people during the Civil War still had time to think about love.

  7. I reached out to Nancy Rosin, an expert on antique valentines whom I interviewed a few years back, here's her response:

    Hello, and Happy Valentines Day -- early! Nice to hear from you. Those are lovely cards. The W/5 means that it was a product of the George Whitney Company, and the price was five cents. The other is probably also the price in cents -- but there is no company name.

    I imagine your friend is very much aware of the fact that this is Leap Year!


    President, National Valentine Collectors Association
    Vice President, The Ephemera Society of America

  8. Linda,

    Thanks so much to you and Nancy. How very kind of you to track down this information.


  9. These are beautiful, Christine! My favorite is the 3rd one down.

  10. Very nice. I was especially interested in the answer about the "W". I don't have any really old Valentines, but I collect Whitney Valentine postcards (I made a video with some a couple of days ago). Here is a link with a bit of information about Whitney:



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