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The ‘Mom Of The American Valentine’ Never Married

Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis 45 minutes west of Boston where I live, is enormously happy with its fairly peculiar checklist of “famous firsts”, including barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the start management pill, the first perfect sport in major league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon.

And yearly about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the primary industrial valentines in this nation thanks to a foresighted younger girl named Esther Howland, identified as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

The initial demand was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her friends to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them around an extended desk on the third flooring of her home. The company was eventually incomes $a hundred,000–a phenomenal success.

Esther is taken into account significant because, in line with historians, she was amongst the primary commercially profitable ladies overseeing a feminine-run enterprise, and she mainly created the assembly-line system, paying the native girls “liberally”. She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion results, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside–one thing you had to hunt for. She had her employees mark the again of each valentine with a crimson “H”.

In the Victorian era, Valentines were wildly in style, and the frilly playing cards have been scrutinized for clues–even the place of the stamp on the envelope meant one thing. Typically the valentine was meant as a marriage proposal.

“The last 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 change 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 brand new England Valentine Co. (and their playing cards have been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)

That is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mom of the Valentine” begins to get somewhat shaky.
It appears, upon much study, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, began the business valentine enterprise within the U.S. even before Miss Howland did, but he didn’t wish to speak about it, as a result of the Taft household had been stone island slim jeans indigo blue strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mother sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure–I reside in North Grafton, about a stone’s throw from the place Taft labored.)

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 decided to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a buying journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he bought many valentines supplies–laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines along with his wife’s assist, and in 1844–3 years before Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “manufacturing unit” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) But because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal title on the valentines–only “Wood” (his center title) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as one in every of his staff 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 turned unwell and stone island slim jeans indigo blue she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with considered one of her brothers and she passed away in 1904.Sadly, despite all of the couples who presumably discovered their true love due to Esther’s creations, the “Mom of the Valentine” never married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney purchased the combined enterprise of Taft and Howland and it grew to become The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine manufacturing for a few years. As an alternative of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and finally added postcards within the 1890’s. The Whitney designs, featuring youngsters who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” kids, were wildly in style, though more typically exchanged by children than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney factory closed, on account of wartime paper shortages.

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