Long before the internet and eBay, the only way to find vintage Valentine’s Day cards was to dig through dusty boxes at garage and estate sales. Looking for love in all the dusty places. It is hard to describe the feeling of discovery when a vintage card would be unearthed after sleeping for decades.
Historically, the roots of St. Valentine’s Day go back, loosely to the Romans and “The Feast of Lupercalia.” A horrifying holiday by any standards. Go ahead and look it up but you’ve been warned. This later morphed into the celebration of St. Valentine. In 1382 Chaucer made a reference to the day in a poem, and in 1537 Henry VII declared it a national holiday. We have never looked back.
Collected here is a sample of the cards I have unearthed over the years. Each tells a unique story. The elaborate three dimensional Victorian cards, mostly impressive German lithography, used “floriography” to send hidden messages in the card as each flower had a special meaning.
The cards that were sent and signed, mostly in ink, are all that remain of desire and its endless expressions. The lovers long gone, but their declarations of love live on.
Happy Valentine’s Day.