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.
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.”
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.
This card from 1882 reads:
Post I send
to my friend.
May every flying
A messenger of
love to thee.”
The one above from around 1890 just reads “To My Valentine” and features Cupid as a blacksmith joining hearts together.
This 1908 card features a little clown with a cone hat and a heart jumpsuit. It says, “With Love’s Greeting.”
Look at the gorgeous colors on this lithographed card from 1910.
This care from around the same period features a train engine made of violets with hearts for head lights.
This card from the 1910s is overflowing with lace, ribbons, pink, and hearts. It reads: “My Heart’s Gift.”
During the 1920s a fascination with harlequins showed up in all kinds of art- including this lovely color card highlighted in gold ink.
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”
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
IF I BRAG A BIT ‘BOUT YOU!”