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The History Of Valentine's Day Greeting Cards in the USA

By Popup Cut on Dec 18, 2022

Why do people send each other cards on Valentine's Day to express their feelings and express their love for each other?

The exact beginning of St. Valentine's Day is in dispute, but the most popular story tells of a Roman priest, Valentine of Rome, who defied the order of Roman Emperor Claudius II to stop performing marriage ceremonies for young men whom he wished to recruit into the army. He believed that married men did not make good soldiers. He had Valentine arrested and incarcerated. While in prison, Valentine became friends with the blind daughter of his jailer. Before his execution in A.D. 269, he healed her blindness and wrote her a note, which he signed "from your Valentine."

Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14. Across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. 

Valentine's Day Greeting Cards in America

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.

Esther Howland, whose father owned the largest stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts, is nicknamed the “Mother of the American Valentine” and credited with creating the first mass market printed Valentines in the United States. In 1849, Howland designed a line of Valentine’s Day cards after being inspired by one sent to her from England.

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.

Howland’s cards, featuring lacey cut-outs and intricate illustrations, were assembled in her home by a bevy of local ladies that she hired. Howland’s Valentines used papers and illustrations imported from Europe with the help of her father’s stationery business, her cards were very different than other Valentines already on the U.S. market at the time.

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.

Valentine 3D popup greeting cards for Everyone

According to the Greeting Card Association, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for Americans to send greeting cards. The U.S. trade association counts an estimated 145 million cards sold each year for the holiday, compared to 1.6 billion cards for Christmas.

The figures in Valentine's Day greeting cards gallery include a symbol of Cupid, cherubs, the heart, a love tree, a rose... Valentine 3D Cut Popup Card has multiple parts held together, and others have many layers to produce a three-dimensional model.

Reference: wisconsinhistory.org; scrapbook.com

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