The tradition of exchanging Valentine’s cards can be traced again back to ancient Rome and the Lupercalia festival which was celebrated mid February and was the festival celebrating fertility.
As Valentine’s cards progressed through the years, Victorian Era cards were showstoppers. Often elaborate in design, embellished with lace, ribbons, colorful illustrations, poetry and romantic verses. They were originals often handcrafted from materials bought at a stationer’s shop. They were flat sheets of paper and would be folded and sealed with wax so they could be mailed. These cards were handmade, and slipped under the door of t love interest.
The tradition as we know it in the US became popular in the 19th century with Esther Howland. She is known as the mother of the American Valentine. She was inspired after receiving an English Victorian Valentine and is responsible for the mass market appeal of Valentine’s cards. Her fancily designed cards were embellished much like her inspiration and they became highly desired.Her cards were so popular, it is reported that in the mid 1870’s she sold $100,000 in cards. Her company eventually became New England Valentine Company. Pretty exciting as a woman-owned business back in the 1800’s!