Valentine’s Day has a long and storied history, dating back to the days of the Roman Empire and the Roman festival of Lupercalia, this was a festival that was steeped in animal sacrifice in an attempt to ward off infertility. But did you know that the tradition of Valentine’s Day cards also dates back to the Roman Empire? The first Valentine’s Day card is said to date back to the jailing of St. Valentine, who was imprisoned for performing weddings for Roman soldiers, who were forbidden from marriage at the time. While imprisoned he developed an affection for the jailers blind daughter and was said to have cured her of blindness. Before his execution he wrote a love note to the jailers daughter and he signed it, “your Valentine”.
Early History of Valentine’s Cards
Although giving Valentine’s greetings was documented as far back as the Middle Ages, the oldest known valentine still in existence today dates back from 1415, it is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (This Valentine’s can be seen at the British Museum) It took a few more centuries until the exchange of Valentine’s greetings became common. Towards the second half of the 18th century as printing and postage became more affordable it became common in Britain for both friends and lovers to exchange Valentine’s greetings.
Esther A Howland and Valentine’s Cards in the US
Handmade Valentine’s cards began to be exchanged in the US in the mid-17th Century, although it took more time for this practice to catch on; the Penny Post and the greater availability of materials, from which to make the cards were instrumental in the commercialization of Valentine’s Day cards. Commercially available Valentine’s Day cards did not become “a thing” until Esther A. Howland. Esther A. Howland is known as “the mother of the American Valentine”. Born in Worcester Massachusetts in 1828 she was inspired to make her first commercial Valentine’s Day card in 1847 after receiving an elaborate Valentine from England. With the support of her father (the owner of the largest stationary store in Worcester) she began to make handmade Valentine’s cards towards the end of the 1840’s. She hoped to sell $200 worth of cards in the first year, but with the help of her brother, a salesperson for her father’s store (who took card samples on his sales trip) sold $5000 worth of Valentine’s cards in the first year. Her company soon grew to make over $100,000 in sales per year. The company that Howland founded was sold in 1881 and continued to manufacture Valentine’s Day cards until the start of the Second World War when it had to shut down due to a paper shortage.
Valentine’s Day Cards Today
Today, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to send a greeting card (after Christmas), according to the greeting Card Association there are over 150 million Valentine’s Day cards sent each year in the US. (This does not include the millions of cards that are exchanged by school children). And over a billion Valentine’s Day cards are expected to be exchanged this year around the world.
When it comes to choosing the perfect Valentine’s Day card you have many options from the leading greeting card manufacturers such as Hallmark, Quilling Card or Lovepop. Hallmark has over 1000 varieties of Valentine’s Day cards; while Lovepop offers a laser printed pop-up card. If you are looking for a truly unique handcrafted Valentine’s Day card that your sweetheart will cherish long after February 14th we suggest getting a Quilled Valentine’s card from Quilling Card, these stunning cards are handcrafted using the ancient artform of Quilling, each card is a true work of art and can be easily framed.