Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentines and Other Fuzzy Warm Greetings!

With Valentine's Day upon us, there will be ka-zillions of cards made and sold all over the world just for this occasion.  Is it possible that Valentines outsell Christmas Cards? Well, I couldn't find out much on this question, but according to, on February 14, 2010, Valentines ranked second.
  Here are just a few stats on the subject of Valentine Cards:
85% of Valentine Cards are purchased by women.
73% of flowers are purchased by men.
Children ages 6-10 will exchange 650 million Valentines
with teachers, families and classmates.
And teachers will receive the most Valentine Cards, followed by
children, moms, wives and sweethearts.
I only wish I had some of my old Valentines to show you-not that I got that many!  I kept some of my childhood Valentines from the 1950's and then felt stupid that I still had them in the 1980's, so I pitched them!  What a fool!!!  Who knew?  So, I am Valentine embarrassed (me-the lover of cards and old prints of anything).  But I did manage to come up with some pictures of vintage cards along with a little info, as a possible peace offering, so to speak.

Little Kids, Retro-Vintage Valentine Cards
This card is Precious!
Now, we all know that Valentine's Day got started in Ancient Rome by St. Valentine, a priest who would secretly marry couples before the soldiers went off to war.  You see, the emperor Claudius II denounced all engagements and marriages because he feared that the soldiers would not want to leave their women.  The emperor eventually caught St. Valentine, had him beaten and beheaded.  All of this took place on none other than Februrary 14th, in the year 270.  Having once been a paganistic event, St. Valentine's day of February the 14th was eventually replaced with a new, more romantic feast.  In the middle ages, it became more popular, as lovers spoke sentiments to one another, and sang songs professing their love.  And then somewhere around the 15th century, paper Valentines written with romantic love poetry were becoming more and more common.
The oldest Valentine in existence is currently on display in the British Museum.

Below are two Vintage Valentine Cards

                                                          British 1862 ~artist unknown

The early factory-made valentine cards in the 1800's were handpainted using black and white pictures, or silhouettes.  And later, paper lace and ribbon were incorporated into the designs. 

A Victorian Heart

 Victorian Valentine Clown Girl ~Ernest Nister 1890's

Esther Howland-Mother of the American Valentine

Esther Howland was inspired by a valentine she received from one of her father's business acquaintances.   And since her family owned the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts, she, being an artist, was able to convince her father that she could design and produce her own Valentines.  So her father ordered lace paper and other supplies and her brother incorporated some of her samples into his catalog to show on his sales trips.  Upon the return from one particular sales trip, her brother presented her with an excess of $5,000.00 in prepaid sales-she had to rent a building and engage a few of her best friends to get this business going.  Even after a knee injury that put her in a wheelchair somewhere around 1866, she continued for another 15 years to design and create her magnificent cards.  Miss Howland never married, but this lady led an exciting, romantic and prosperous life.  In her honor, The Greeting Card Association created the annual Esther Howland Award.

Two of Esther Howland's designs

 As kids in school, we would often make our own Valentines.  Every year, we would make Valentines for our mothers.  We used construction paper, almost always red with lace doilie-type paper to accentuate.  You could fold the construction paper in half and cut around, unfold, and VOILA!  you had a heart.  We wrote the greeting with black ink or crayon, or used cut out letters from construction paper glued on to the card.  You could layer the heart with the lace doilie, cut into a heart, and glue ribbon in the center.  The more layers you could create, the more interesting your valentine became.  We would also cut pictures out of magazines to glue onto our cards.   Below is an example of a handmade Valentine I found.

Then, we decorated our own mailboxes or mailbags for the Valentines we "might" receive.  We would wrap shoe boxes with decorative paper (sometimes we did our own artwork on plain paper and covered the box).  We also cut a slit in the lid of the shoe box for the Valentines to be inserted, and then decorated the lid.  And somewhere on the box we would put our names.  On Valentine's Day, our boxes would be on our desks, and the teacher would instruct a group of kids at a time to walk around and deliver their Valentines.  And, of course, someone would always get tripped along the way!  Got to have a clown in the class you know.  The shoe boxes looked a lot like this:

The other alternative was to decorate paper grocery bags for our Valentines to be dropped in, along with candy that some kids would bring.  The roommothers would also provide Valentine cookies and treats that would also go into our bags.  The teacher would hang the bags on the wooden rail that held the erasers and chalk at our chalkboard.  And, once again, a group at at time would line up and pass by the bags, dropping their Valentines into them.  All others still seated would watch to be sure everyone dropped a Valentine into his or her bag.  Although the grocery bags didn't have handles, they looked much like this:

And the Valentine's of my day looked a lot like this!

Here is a Hallmark Valentine Card from 1950
Having worked at the corporate headquarters of Hallmark Cards for over 5 years in the late 1960's, I saw thousands of cards daily.  I worked ON the cards-inspecting,cleaning, counting and folding.  For a couple of years I worked on the "cardboard folder" machines.  A guy would feed the flat cards into the large machine (there were two feeders), and they would come out folded.  Myself and another girl would stand across from each other and gather the cards coming out in 2 rows on a conveyor belt (one for each of us), stacking them as we picked them up.  And then we would transport the stack by hand into boxes that would hold several hundred cards, more or less, depending on their size.  Some cards are slippery from their glossy finish and we couldn't pick up too many at one time, but generally, we could pick up over 50 cards in one stack.  Yes, sometimes they buckled and flew out of our hands!  Oh, the operator would then have to stop the machine, much to his dismay, so we could pick them up.  The guys didn't like to stop the machines because if we got out a certain number of cards daily (over quota), there would be a bonus on their paychecks.  I also inspected cards for defects such as color distortion, dirt and ink ruboff.  We also had to be sure that the illustrations were on register, or centered on the card where they should be.  The Christmas Card rush would start in June of the year.  Sometimes we would get overtime, and, believe me, I welcomed that overtime pay!  They would send me up the street to an old building they called "Warehouse 13".  It must have been an early building for Hallmark production.  This building had the old wooden elevators with the gates you could see through.  It was here that the cards were actually personalized with the old type print method.  We could even make a plate with the client's actual signature for the card.  And I got to help print Clint Eastwood's Christmas cards one year.  I was allowed to keep one of Clint's cards and one that we did for Parnelli Jones'    This time of year was a lot of fun.  

Here is a vintage Valentine made in the USA

looks pretty retro, huh?  really cool card!
Valentine's Day always makes me think of the movie, "Thief of Hearts".  This movie came out in 1984, but I didn't see it until around 1988.  I rented the VHS tape-don't know why, because I had never heard of the movie-it just looked good, and, oh-it has nothing at all to do with Valentine's Day.  The only actor in this movie I recognize today is none other than Horatio Cain from "CSI Miami".  I didn't know who he was then, but he played a young redheaded punk thug in this movie. And I remembered him later as he appeared in more films and TV programs.  The film starred Steven Bauer, who appeared in "Scarface" as Al Pacino's buddy and has done a music video with the Eurythmics (and now, the light comes on).  Also, starring was Barbara Williams, who has appeared in various films, one with the late Corey Haim called "Watchers".  And John Getz starred in the film-he has appeared in many films and TV shows, "Killer Bees", "Men at Work", and has appeared on "How I Met Your Mother", and "Three's Company".
This was one of the most explosive and romantically (well, actually sexually) dangerous movies I've ever seen!  I've only seen it once, and never forgot it.  I don't know if I could see it again-I'm afraid of breaking the spell from the first time.  You feel the fear-and then, you feel the romance.  And I still don't know anyone personally who has seen this movie.  Please come forward if you've seen it and pinch me!  This movie is available at Amazon on DVD and still on VHS at various prices ranging from $29.95 -$100.00.

Here are just a few of the Valentine Cards I did save for my son, Rusty from the early 1980's when he was just a tyke!  I even have the little envelopes they came in!

This one is from Skipper Baker!  Too Cute!
This card was still sealed up in an envelope-yes, I was careful!

And here's one from Joe M.
I know, I know-these were little bitty kids!  He did get some from girls too!

And here he comes to save the day!
Superman himself!

This card was not signed on the back-but what a keepsake!

I must stop here and thank all of my contributors for saving my @#S, since I didn't even save one old Valentine from the 1960's to show:  *  *  *  *

And since I'm running late, I don't have any of my homemade cards printed yet to post.  I've made a nice one for my husband, who is my true Valentine!  He is the most romantic man I know.  And I've told him this.  We do exchange Valentine cards, and we buy flowers together.  This is a tradition of mine, though.  I started buying my own flowers-oh, I didn't order expensive bouquets to be delivered to me!!!  I would just go to the grocery store and buy the $5.00 bouquets, and I enjoyed them!  Now, we go together and get them.  And we either go out for dinner somewhere, or just fix something special-that's all I've ever wanted in a husband-the togetherness and the laughter the enjoyment brings. 

"love is a game that two can play and both win."
~Eva Gabor

Happy Valentine's Day to all of my readers!  Thank you for stopping by-I hope there was something  on this post that made you smile, laugh, or just plain learn something!  Happy Valentine's Day to my husband Karo, my mom and Bob, my sister Leta, my son Rusty and my little sweetie grandson valentine Shawn. 


  1. Very interesting post. I learnt a lot! Lovely photos of all the different valentine's cards. I hope you get a lovely one this year!

  2. Hi Susan ~ What a great post! Lots of info on Valentines! I wish I still had some of mine from my childhood. I still remember those little valentines and the little envelopes! You'll have to read my post that I wrote today. I wrote about Valentine Parties, too! :) Oh.... and I used to work in a Hallmark store! And... I also worked for American Greetings!

  3. Thank you Thisisme! There are really some gorgeous Valentines out there. I see you've been under the weather lately. Feel better-and have a beautiful Valentine's Day!

  4. Becky, looks like you and Thisisme need to drink the same tea, and eat the same cakes. Glad to see you made it thru your party. I know I'm a Hallmark baby, but American Greetings did good stuff too! Yea, greeting cards! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. OH NO!!!! i'm catching up on blog reading...get to your place...see that rose!! and think...OH NO, susan prob thought i stole it from her!!!! i didn't!! for real!! GREAT MINDS think alike!!

    just had to let you know! now...let me get on with reading your post! OH, and by the way...thought of you last sunday as we sat and watched the superbowl. ((what a terrible half-time always! (except for Slash. he saved the day) i sure hope when i go to read your didn't say how terrific the Black Eyed Peas were....oh well....) :]

  6. (( mention on how Dallas survived the superbowl??!! the inside scoop??! i know, it's already OLD news!))

    but, hey! i learned a lot! i never knew all that about V-day!! i always figured it was a holiday created by a card make money!
    those old vintage cards...are pretty cool...i have the same memories...making valentines in school with construction paper & doilies! i wonder if they still do that?!

    i never saw that movie...didn't sound familiar anyway!

    i also never realized that 'famous' clint eastwood...had their cards personally made by the big card companies! pretty cool!

    well, susan...Happy V-Day!! and enjoy your dinner out!! we do the same thing...x-change cards...treat ourselves to dinner out...or dinner to go from somewhere. mmmmmmm, chinese sounds very good right now...i've had a craving lately!) :]

  7. Yes! I saw your rose last nite and thought the same thing-OMG! I hope Laura doesn't think I stole her rose! But, you did give me the knowhow that enabled me to get that rose-so thanks for that. And-NO! I didn't mention the terrific!?! blah superbowl half-time show. It was a tiring show, kind of like a broken record, and you know, I've not heard anything terrific about it. But, as you, I did enjoy seeing Slash! Thanks Laura-maybe next year they'll have Cher, Tina Turner or Bob Dillon, Clapton-or all of them for superbowl halftime! Yes!

  8. hey...what happened to the other looong comment i left here??
    did it go off into cyberspace somewhere...i went on and on usual...about the old valentine cards...and how much i learned about Vday from your post...and how i remember the paper & doily ones...and how i never knew that big card companies did 'personalized' printing of cards...etcetc... :]laura (now Clapton would definitely be cooler than what they've had there for the past few years!!)

  9. I'm back Laura! had to escape into TAX cyberspace! Printing forms and looking up stuff to do our taxes. No more tax booklets sent out and I didn't even know what the standard deduction was for this time! So, you have to look everything up and print-what a joke! Yes, we personalized the cards and actually got orders from big people-you could only do black or red ink then-now, purple, orange and anything you want. We even did invitations to various functions at the White House (but not personalized), and they were always white with silver or gold ink. Pretty Cool!

  10. >>Burt Reynolds is 75?? wow!!

    sounds pretty cool...all that personalization at the card printing companies. never knew that!

    tax time...ugh...the most stressful time (other than christmas). i wish they'd get rid of the's just too outdated!

    take care. happy sunday! :laura

  11. Yeah, good ole Burt, it doesn't seem possible that he is 75. What a guy! Well, I got my son's taxes done-ours is next. I do them myself-guess I still don't trust electronic tax filing yet. And like you said-they need to get rid of the IRS, and I don't think seniors should have to pay taxes even if they earned some interest they made from money invested that they worked 40 years or more for! And Medicare doesn't pay for some of the meds they REALLY NEED! Ok-I'm through. I'm going 'shroom hunting tomorrow-will let you know if I find anything. Happy Sunday, Laura


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