Simple valentine cards were exchanged in America, as early as the 1700s. However, elaborate cards, as seen below, were only accessible to an upper-class clientele until 1847.

From the Helen Southwick LeCain Valentine’s Collection, circa 1900

Many credit Emma Howland of bringing fancy paper cut-out valentines to the masses. In 1847, Miss Howland was 19 and fresh from her graduation from Mount Holyoke College. Her father owned a stationary and book store in Worcester, Massachusetts. When she received an elaborate valentine from England, she decided to pitch the business idea to her father. In the first year of producing Valentine’s Day cards, they made an astonishing 5,000 sales.

In 1880, Howland sold her business, now the New England Valentine Company. Her idea, and the work that followed, transformed Worcester into the valentine card production capital of America. In her obituary in 1904, Howland was called the “Mother of the American Valentine.”

Here at the Museum we are lucky to have many beautiful vintage Valentines in our collection. Below is just a sampling. Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Inside Card to Left

From the Helen Southwick LeCain Valentine’s Collection, circa 1900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Ruth to Helen Southwick, circa 1900

 

From Goldie Halpert to Helen Southwick, circa 1900

 

From the Helen Southwick LeCain Valentine’s Collection, circa 1900

 

From Gilbert to Helen Southwick, circa 1900

 

Postcard from Menton Cashman to Roger Felt, Clement Ave., Peabody, February 14, 1918

 

Postcard from Helen to Roger Felt, February 12, 1924

Front of card, from Jean N., circa 1940

Inside of Card to Left

 

 

 

 

 

From the Card Collection of Ednah Horner and Emma Ritchings, February 14, 1909

 

References

Mary Champagne,¬†Library of Congress, “Esther Howland and the Business of Love”, published March 23, 2016.¬†https://blogs.loc.gov/inside_adams/2016/03/esther-howland-and-the-business-of-love/

The Worcester Historical Society, 2023.

Valentines

https://www.worcesterhistory.org/worcesters-history/worcestersown/valentines/#:~:text=For%20nearly%20100%20years%2C%20Worcester,through%20her%20father’s%20stationery%20store