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Three Centuries of Valentines Offer 12,000 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’

Paper Valentines spanning 3 centuries of optimism about romance had been delivered to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. The assortment of about 12,000 playing cards used to be assembled over 4 many years by means of Nancy Rosin, a historian and collector in Franklin Lakes, N.J., whose circle of relatives has donated it to the museum.

Mrs. Rosin spent up to hundreds of greenbacks every for the Valentines, which have been produced as early because the 1680s. Their motifs, apart from the predicted hearts and Cupids, can appear unsentimental. Images of battlefield tents represented areas the place squaddies may carve out time to write to their sweethearts, and depictions of caged mice might characterize a need to stay beloveds captive.

“Love was expressed in so many ways,” mentioned Mrs. Rosin, who additionally is helping catalog valentines on the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Inscriptions and names at the playing cards and envelopes now and again make it imaginable to decide which correspondents ended up thankfully married and which broke up, mentioned Mrs. Rosin. In some circumstances, she added, ladies would reject males who had spent an excessive amount of cash on elaborate Valentines.

CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A Civil War Valentine dated Feb. 14, 1863. The tent’s flaps open to expose a soldier composing a love letter whilst envisioning his loved.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A cobweb Valentine, almost definitely British, circa 1830-60. A string lifts up the fortress to expose a mouse in a lure.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A card from about 1855 with a biting message: “I’ll get married but not to you.” It used to be created by means of Esther Howland, one of essentially the most a success Valentine manufacturers of the 19th century.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

This German card from round 1900 folds open right into a 3-dimensional educate.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A fraktur labyrinth, a mode of Pennsylvania-German folks artwork, dated 1824. The trend is designed as an unending knot, introduced as a token of affection.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A satirical “vinegar” Valentine from America, circa 1855.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Another fold-open card from the Civil War generation: “Thoughts of Home.”


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A devotional card made in Paris within the mid-1800s that reads, “Crown of sorrows, crown of glory.” The symbol is engraved on lace paper, with carried out components together with die-cut and gilded scraps, tissue and dried flora.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

A British cut-paper Valentine card, made by means of Elizabeth Cobbold round 1810.


CreditThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

An Esther Howland card from about 1870.

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