Valentines Within the U.S. — It all Started Right here
Worcester, MA, the as soon as-bustling industrial metropolis 45 minutes west of Boston, where I dwell, is enormously pleased with its relatively peculiar record of “well-known firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the start management pill, the first excellent sport in main league baseball, the primary liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a soon-to-be published inform-all ebook “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historic Museum and written by me.
And yearly, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the primary commercial valentines in this nation thanks to a foresighted young lady named stone island size large Esther Howland, recognized because the “Mother of the Valentine.”
Esther Howland (1828-1904) attended Mount Holyoke at the identical time as Emily Dickinson. She was the daughter of a successful Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she obtained a frilly English valentine that impressed her to ask her father to order materials from England so that she may assemble her own. She then satisfied her brother, a salesman for the corporate, to point out a couple of of her valentines on his gross sales rounds.
The initial demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered some of her pals to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them round an extended desk on the third floor of her residence. The corporate was ultimately earning $a hundred,000 — a phenomenal success.
Esther is considered significant because, in accordance with historians, she was amongst the primary commercially successful ladies overseeing a feminine-run business, and she basically created the assembly-line system, paying the native girls “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 staff mark the back of every valentine with a purple “H”.
Within the Victorian era, Valentines were wildly standard and the frilly cards have been scrutinized for clues — even the position of the stamp on the envelope meant one thing. Typically the valentine was supposed as a marriage proposal.
“The final week has been a merry one in Amherst, & notes have flown round like snowflakes. Ancient gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in trade for smiles…”
In 1879 — after 30 years in business–Esther merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Collectively they formed the brand new England Valentine Co. (and their cards have been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)
That is the place Esther Howland’s title of “Mom of the Valentine” begins to get a little bit shaky.
It appears, upon much research, 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 before Miss Howland did, but he did not wish to speak about it because the Taft family have been strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mom sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure — I dwell in North Grafton, a couple of 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. However in 1840, one of many twins died all of the sudden, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham determined to take his wife and surviving son to Europe with him on stone island size large a shopping for trip for the stationer who employed him, and whereas in Germany, he purchased many valentines supplies — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.
When he returned, Taft started making valentines together with his wife’s help, and in 1844–three years earlier than Esther Howland graduated from college–he opened a valentine “manufacturing unit” in North Grafton (then known as New England Village.) But due to his mother’s disapproval, Taft never put his own name on the valentines — solely “Wooden” (his middle identify) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as certainly one of his staff before she opened her personal manufacturing facility
Taft and Howland merged into the new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a 12 months later, Esther’s father grew to become sick and she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one in every of her brothers and she passed away in 1904.
Sadly, despite all the couples who presumably discovered their true love because of Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” by no means married.
In 1881, George C. Whitney purchased the mixed enterprise of Taft and Howland and it became The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for a few years. Instead of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and ultimately added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, that includes kids who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” youngsters, have been wildly standard, although more usually exchanged by children than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney factory closed, because of wartime paper shortages
(The valentines above, from my assortment, are German and English-made — sadly not by Howland or Taft.)
Earlier on Huff/Post50: Photograph GALLERY
Before YOU GO
14 Formidable Amateurs
Valentines In the U.S. — All of it Began Here
14 Bold Amateurs
14 Formidable Amateurs
1 / 14
In 1778, trying to raise cash for our revolt, Ben pranced round Paris in frontier drag–full-on Daniel Boone, coonskin cap and all–displaying the French what they expected to see: the self-invented American. This mummery drove John Adams to his therapy couch (aka, his letters to Abigail) where he fumed about disgraceful “public men” (i.e.media whores). In the long run, a totally enraged Adams fled Paris, whereas Franklin carried on, eventually securing the money and alliance that received the conflict.