Best OF OLD WORLD Vintage Antique Collectable DECOR


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February 15, 2024

Exchanging handmade Valentine's Day cards probably began in America in the early 1700s. Manufactured cards appeared as early as the 1830s. After this time, the availability of paper and a universal postal system made valentines more accessible to the masses. In 1847 Esther Howland, known as the "Mother of the American Valentine" received an elaborate English valentine. This inspired her to create her own valentines, convincing her father, who owned the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts, to order paper lace and supplies from England and New York.

That first year she hoped to sell $200 worth of cards. Her brother took a dozen samples on his next sales trip and returned with $5,000 in advance sales. In order to fill the orders, she recruited friends and family, and her business was born. Eventually her company was making $100,000 a year. In 1879 she joined forces with Edward Taft to create the New England Valentine Company. In 1881 George C. Whitney bought their business, combining it with his own, the Whitney Valentine Company. His son continued manufacturing Valentine's Day cards until 1942 when wartime paper shortages caused the business to close.

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