Valentines Within the U.S. — It all Started Right here
Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston, the place I live, is enormously proud of its moderately peculiar listing of “famous firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the birth management pill, the primary perfect game in main league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a quickly-to-be published tell-all ebook “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historic Museum and written by me.
And every year, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the primary commercial valentines on this nation thanks to a foresighted younger girl named Esther Howland, recognized because the “Mother of the Valentine.”
The preliminary demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered some of her pals to help her assemble the valentines, seating them round a long table on the third floor of her residence. The company was finally incomes $one hundred,000 — a phenomenal success.
Esther is taken into account vital because, in accordance with historians, she was amongst the first commercially profitable women overseeing a female-run business, and she principally created the assembly-line system, paying the native ladies “liberally”.
She introduced layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion results, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside, something you needed to hunt for. She had her staff mark the again of each valentine with a crimson “H”.
In the Victorian era, Valentines have been wildly in style and the flowery playing cards were 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 last week has been a merry one in Amherst, & notes have flown round like snowflakes. Historical gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in alternate for smiles…”
In 1879 — after 30 years in enterprise–Esther merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Together they formed the brand new England Valentine Co. (and their playing cards were marked “N.E.V.Co.”)
That is the place Esther Howland’s title of “Mother of the Valentine” begins to get a bit of shaky.
It seems, upon a lot examine, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, started the industrial valentine business within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, but he did not prefer to discuss it as a result of the Taft household 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 the place Taft labored.)
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 all of a sudden, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham determined to take his wife and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he bought many valentines provides — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.
When he returned, Taft began making valentines along with his spouse’s stone island tracksuit kent help, and in 1844–three years before Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “manufacturing facility” in North Grafton (then known as New England Village.) However because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal name on the valentines — solely “Wooden” (his middle title) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft skilled Elizabeth Howland as one of his employees before she opened her own manufacturing facility
Taft and Howland merged into the new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a yr later, Esther’s father grew to become in poor health and she left her business to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one of her brothers and she passed away in 1904.
Unfortunately, regardless of all the couples who presumably found their true love because of Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” never married.
In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the combined business of Taft and Howland and it became The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for many years. As a substitute of playing cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and eventually added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, that includes kids who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” youngsters, were wildly standard, although more typically exchanged by youngsters than grownup lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing unit closed, as a result of wartime paper shortages
(The valentines above, from my assortment, are German and English-made — sadly not by Howland or Taft.)
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