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The ‘Mother Of The American Valentine’ By no means Married

Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis 45 minutes west of Boston where I live, is enormously proud of its quite peculiar checklist of “famous firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the beginning control pill, the primary perfect recreation in major league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon.

And every year about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first commercial valentines in this nation because of a foresighted younger lady named Esther Howland, identified because the “Mom of the Valentine.”

Esther Howland (1828-1904) attended Mount Holyoke at the same time as Emily Dickinson. She was the daughter of a profitable Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she acquired a frilly English valentine that inspired her to ask her father to order supplies from England so that she may assemble her personal. She then convinced her brother, a salesman for the company, to point out a number of of her valentines on his sales rounds.

The preliminary demand was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her associates to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them round a protracted desk on the third ground of her home. The corporate was eventually earning $one hundred,000–a phenomenal success.

Esther is taken into account vital as a result of, based on historians, she was among the primary commercially profitable girls overseeing a female-run enterprise, and outlet stone island madrid she basically created the meeting-line system, paying the local women “liberally”. She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion effects, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside–one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her workers mark the again of each valentine with a red “H”.

Within the Victorian period, Valentines had been wildly standard, and the frilly playing cards had been scrutinized for clues–even the place of the stamp on the envelope meant something. Often the valentine was intended as a marriage proposal.

“The last week has been a merry one in Amherst; notes have flown around like snowflakes. Ancient gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in exchange for smiles…”

In 1879–after 30 years in business–Esther Howland merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Collectively they formed the new England Valentine Co. (and their playing cards had been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)

This is the place Esther Howland’s title of “Mother of the Valentine” begins to get just a little shaky.
It appears, upon a lot examine, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, began the industrial valentine enterprise within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he did not prefer to talk about it, as a result of the Taft family were strict Quakers outlet stone island madrid and Jotham Taft’s mother sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure–I live in North Grafton, a few stone’s throw from where Taft worked.)

In 1836, Jotham Taft married Sarah E. Coe of Rhode Island and two years later, they welcomed twin sons. But in 1840, one of the twins died abruptly, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham decided to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he purchased many valentines supplies–laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines with his wife’s help, and in 1844–3 years earlier than Esther Howland graduated from faculty–he opened a valentine “factory” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) But because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal identify on the valentines–only “Wooden” (his middle title) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as one in every of his workers before she opened her own factory.

Taft and Howland merged into the brand new England Valentine Co. in 1879, and a yr later Esther’s father grew to become ill and she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with considered one of her brothers and she handed away in 1904.Unfortunately, regardless of all of the couples who presumably found their true love due to Esther’s creations, the “Mom of the Valentine” by no means married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney purchased the mixed enterprise of Taft and Howland and it turned The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine manufacturing for many years. As a substitute of playing cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and eventually added postcards within the 1890’s. The Whitney designs, that includes youngsters who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” youngsters, were wildly well-liked, though extra usually exchanged by children than grownup lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing unit closed, because of wartime paper shortages.

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