I have always been a sucker for all things antique: furniture, clothing, decorations. They allow me to imagine a world where attention was paid to even the tiniest of details and life was just simpler. The Free Library of Philadelphia has a special section called the Print and Picture Collection, which is overflowing with old photographs and prints, as well as postcards, trading cards, magazine clippings, and so much more. I found out from our creative director that they have an entire collection of old valentines, and I couldn’t wait to go.
As soon as I walked in, I was told to take a seat. Moments later, a large, sturdy box was placed on the table right in front of me. It was filled to the brim with antique valentines from as early as the 1880’s!
A lot of them were very fragile so I was sure to handle them in the most delicate manner (something that doesn’t come so naturally to me). In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share with you some of my favorites!
Many of these valentines were not your average card. I saw so much gorgeous cutwork, and a few of them even stood up on their own.
I loved seeing all the creativity that went in to making these valentines. There were lots of flaps to be opened, revealing the sweetest surprises.
It was also really cool to see the old typefaces that were used, and the choice of language even moreso!
Here’s an excerpt I loved from one of the cards above:
And so I’ll keep my vigil patiently
Nor shew my presence by the faintest sign,
Till in her sleep she dreams that I am by,
And wakes to claim me for her Valentine
The card above was on the simpler side, but for some reason I can’t get it out of my head – everything about it just spoke to me. I love its itty bitty size, its floral theme, the oval made of tiny dots, and the cutwork. I love that it opened like shutters of a window, and that the type on the inside was so magical and sweet. In my opinion, this little card was perfect.
These little cat valentines were so adorable! I loved the circular portraits with flowers overlapping on the sides. These little guys said things like “Where is my Valentine?” “Will you be my Valentine?” and “I am your Valentine!”
This girl was so fun! You could move her arms and legs all around to make her look like she was dancing! But I think this next one might take the cake for most intricate…
The amount of detail on this piece was insane. I loved how much dimension was created by the use of multiple planes and that every little piece was fully cut out. The card read: “To Anna, From Papa” and is dated 1908. That’s 105 years ago! I can imagine a little girl being so giddy with excitement after receiving this beautiful card from her father! So sweet.
I used to pride myself on the creative cards I make, but now I feel like I might have to step up my game. Happy Valentine’s Day, my dears!
More daily inspiration on the blog!