11 Gorgeous Vintage Valentine’s Day Cards

Each card says so much about the era in which it was made.

As a child I remember giving Valentine’s Day cards to everyone in class, but rarely did I give any that were meant for someone I really loved. The exception was always a handmade one for my mom. But, throughout the years card giving on February 14th has at times been a more fussy affair, with beautiful lithographed, hand-tinted, and even lace Valentine’s Day cards being given on the holiday that celebrates romantic love. In honor of this day, here are 11 gorgeous Valentine’s cards from the 1850s to the 1940s.

1850s Valentine's Day card
Via: Smithsonian Institute

The card above is from around 1850 and reads:

“Go where we will, this hand in thine,

Those eyes before me smiling thus;
Through good & ill, through storm & shine.
The world’s a world of love for us-

Nor care I to what lands I roam,
With thee, the desert wilds a home.”

1850s Valentine's Day card
Via: Smithsonian Institute

The gorgeous lace-patterned paper card above, also from the 1850s, simply reads: “Reflections of the Heart” and at the bottom “May I Hope”. What a sweet and tender sentiment! And, just look at the lace designs. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore.

Valentine's Day card from 1882
Via: L. Prang & Co./Library of Congress

This card from 1882 reads:
“By Dandelion
Post I send
This Valentine
to my friend.
May every flying
seedlet be
A messenger of
love to thee.”

1890s Valentine's Day card
Via: NYPL Digital Collections

The one above from around 1890 just reads “To My Valentine” and features Cupid as a blacksmith joining hearts together.

Valentine's Day card from 1908
Via: USMC Archives/Flickr

This 1908 card features a little clown with a cone hat and a heart jumpsuit. It says, “With Love’s Greeting.”

Valentine's Day card from 1910
Via: NYPL Digital Collections

Look at the gorgeous colors on this lithographed card from 1910.

Valentine's Day card from 1900
Via: Via: NYPL Digital Collections

This care from around the same period features a train engine made of violets with hearts for head lights.

Valentine's Day card from the 1910s
Via: NYPL Digital Collections

This card from the 1910s is overflowing with lace, ribbons, pink, and hearts. It reads: “My Heart’s Gift.”

Valentine's Day card from  the 1920s
Via: NYPL Digital Collections

During the 1920s a fascination with harlequins showed up in all kinds of art- including this lovely color card highlighted in gold ink.

Valentine's Day card from 1945
Via: Deseronto Archives/Flickr

This 1945 card follows the more modern tradition of using bad puns, likes, and similes to talk about love and friendship. It reads:
“Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m a nice squirrel
and nuts to you”

Valentine's Day card from 1944
Via: USMC Archives/Flickr

This nifty, tweed card from during World War II is just for Dad. The inside of the card reads:
“I was taught I mustn’t BRAG
About nice things I own–
I should use a modest tone!
But I can’t underestimate
One treasure, it is true–
So, Dad, you’ll have to pardon me

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