The first Valentine’s cards were sent in the 18th century in France and Britain. Lovers would decorate handmade paper cards with romantic symbols, including flowers and love knots, often including puzzles and lines of poetry. These cards were then slipped secretly under a door, or tied to a door-knocker.
In the mid-19th century, Valentine’s cards rapidly gained popularity in America, where they were initially advertised as a British fashion. American technologies meant that more elaborate cards were produced cheaply, encouraging their popularity further yet. In 1913, Hallmark Cards produced their first Valentine’s card.
These cards (c. 1915 and 1916) are on loan from BNHV Board President, Jan Reilly.