Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest commercial dates on the calendar. It’s estimated that Americans splurge around 18.2 billion each year on expressing their adoration with cards, flowers, and presents! In the run-up to February 14th, shops are inundated with Valentine’s gifts, marketing ploys are lurking on every street corner and it seems that everybody has got love (or lack of) on the mind.
Where did it all start?
Behind all the consumerism lies a historical tradition that dates back as far as the ancient Roman times. On February 15th, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. This was an annual festival in which civilians would take part in rituals to avert evil spirits, increase fertility and purify the city. Men would sacrifice goats and use their skins to whip women, believing that this would make them more fertile.
An official feast day in the Anglican Communion, it is thought that Valentine’s Day was inspired by the feast of Lupercalia. However, the true origin of this day remains a mystery…
Vintage Valentine’s cards
When we think of Valentine’s Day, we synonymously think of the tradition of sending and receiving cards. Millions of cards containing cute poems and love letters have been distributed over the years. Many collectors have a fascinating selection, and it’s easy to find original vintage cards online or in flea markets and antique shops.
You will find below a selection of our favorite mix of Valentine’s Day cards (mainly Edwardian-Victorian) and where to snap them online.
This slightly embossed Valentine’s postcard says ‘To my Valentine, Say Yes’.
We adore this beautiful Italian postcard, it’s slightly worn around the edges and most likely dates back to 1910.
Mailed in February 1911, this sepia-toned postcard says ‘My thoughts are with you’. A ghostly face appears to this Edwardian gentleman from the smoke of his cigarette. On the back, Milo writes to apologize for not making it to dance with Miss Mary Haugh. Apparently, the roads were bad in February and he missed the train.
This antique postcard shows a Victorian couple inside a heart locket hung with a green bow and pretty pink flowers above and below. Postmarked on March 15th, 1910 and appears by the writing to have been sent to a friend, rather than a lover.
The caption on this vintage postcard says ‘Rules for Sweet Hearts.’ and shows risque couples, spooning, with humorous poetry about kissing. ‘One half my life I’d gladly miss, if I could have just one kiss’. The postcard has a wide gold border and gold highlights applied to the title.
This postcard from the 1920s, shows a little lady in her blue dress holding a large floral fan while she hops, skips, and jumps ~ according to the poem at her feet.
Retaining its brilliant colors, this pretty postcard has a canceled stamp from Peach Bottom, MD September 11, 1916.
Showing a young woman standing on a chair, with small mice scurrying around the floor beneath her. The caption on this amusing postcard says ‘Afraid of mice, but not of rats.’ A ‘rat’ in this context may refer to a person who exposes other people’s wrongdoings for personal gain, to avoid trouble themselves, or out of jealousy. Strange way to show someone affection!
This lovely postcard was sent ‘With Fondest Love’, from one to another, presumably for Valentine’s Day, in 1908. It shows a young boy holding a heart made of pink flowers with white doves flying and blue flowers framing the scene.
We can’t be sure of how genuine this Valentine’s card is as it doesn’t have a postmark, however, it is so cute and kitsch that we simply had to include it!
What about you? Are there any memorable valentine’s card you’ve ever seen or received, that stands out of the ordinary? Feel free to use the comment section below to share your experience!
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