Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Well this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a fellow with a turtle, but I shall diverge from the image prompt since, 1) I don’t have a picture of a turtle and 2) I have a really neat item from my family collection to share with you! Alan mentioned that this week’s Sepia meet-up is the closest to Valentine’s Day, and that is where I’m going with my post.

I learned from friends in other countries that American’s are far more obsessed with the giving and receiving of Valentine greetings than say, the English or Canadians. I suppose this is a testament to the American consumer culture, or possibly the commercialization of every possible holiday to be named on a calendar. But, we know from American history that this fascination with love and Valentine cards easily goes back to the late 19th century and early 20th. My mother gave me last weekend the following Valentine’s Day card, dated February 14, 1900.

February 14, 1900

February 14, 1900

I looked through all my various photo editing tools (which I freely admit I am no pro with) and wasn’t able to figure out how to rotate this by 45 degrees. When on the scanner in that orientation the scalloped corners fall over the sides and wouldn’t be scanned. Ah, sigh, I suppose I need a lesson in Pixelmator.

Anyway! The Valentine is composed of three layers of paper – the backing piece is gilded tag or card stock, die cut I assume, into beautiful scalloped edges. Two of the corners were lost to the ages, while the other two were creased back, almost as if being fit into an envelope, but I suspect just from wear and tear. The middle layer looks like vellum, delicately cut and gilded. It has a finer weight than the backing piece and is slightly translucent. The top layer is embossed, gilded and printed card stock, featuring the image of a couple dressed in Georgian fashions. Much like today, the fashions of yore were fascinating to our Victorian cousins at the turn of the century.

The layers are tied together with a fine pink ribbon. Behind the vellum, printed on the card stock, is the following romantic expression:

Love’s Token

May all your days be free from care,

And sunshine crown the happy hours.

Your life a journey bright and fair,

A pathway strewn with sweetest flowers.

Quite a lovely sentiment, and considering that love and courtship was handled much more cautiously than the “jump in feet first” method employed by today’s young people, this is quite sentimental. “I hope you never have to work hard at anything and nothing ever troubles you.”

I don’t know who the Valentine was given to or from whence it came. Mom thought it was from the Westfield house, so that would make it a Brewer item, but beyond that, who knows. It was not addressed or signed. A token so sweet though was certainly cherished and carefully stored for over 100 years. I too shall carefully store it and cherish it for the next generation.

UPDATE: Thanks Brett for the rotated image!

For more Valentine’s greetings and probably some turtles, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Don’t be a slow poke


13 thoughts on “A Valentine Greeting

  1. Wendy says:

    Such a lovely card. Who needs turtles anyway?


  2. Nancy Javier says:

    That’s a gorgeous Valentine’s card. You’ve described it so well I almost felt I was holding it in my hand.


  3. Lovely Valentine Card..the old ones are the best! :)


  4. Boobook says:

    Beautiful card. They went to a lot of trouble. (If you use Google Picasa to edit you photos it’s dead easy to rotate.)


  5. Brett Payne says:

    I’m afraid I do not pander to the marketing, and Valentine’s Day does not feature on this household’s calendar.

    I’ve rotated your image for you, so if you’d like to send me your email address, I’d be happy to email it.


  6. Alan BURNETT says:

    What a beautiful piece of work. Real care went into that. Worth a thousand text messages.


  7. Bob Scotney says:

    I’m afraid that Valentine’s Day in our house is usually remembered two days late. I even tried to ignore the internet for the 14th.
    However your card is a piece of art and history that need to be preserved and appreciated for what it represented.


  8. Little Nell says:

    We don’t do cards either but I must admit that this is a beautiful example and I really like the sentiment of the poem. Anyway they were a couple of ‘turtle’ doves :)


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      And there it is, a tie in for the win!


  9. postcardy says:

    That’s a lovely Valentine. The old one’s were often very elaborate.


  10. I marvel (pardon the expression) at the handcraft that went into so much of antique ephemera. Perhaps something like this was produced by immigrant families in the home as piece work.

    The instrument is no more accurate than the quasi-18th century costume, but it bears a resemblance to a cittern which was a new 19th century version of a renaissance string instrument. A bit like a banjo and used for a simple strumming accompaniment of a voice.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Haha you sound like me picking apart every costume in every “period piece” of film or television.


  11. Oh it is quite lovely and I think I see a turtle peaking out from beneath the ladies gown. Maybe it’s just me.


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