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Valentines Within the U.S. — All of it Started Here

Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston, the place I stay, is enormously pleased with its rather peculiar list of “famous firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the delivery control pill, the primary good game in main league baseball, the primary liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a soon-to-be printed tell-all book “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historical Museum and written by me.

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And yearly, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the primary business valentines in this country due to a foresighted younger lady named Esther Howland, recognized because the “Mom of the Valentine.”

The preliminary demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered some of her buddies to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them round a long desk on the third ground of her dwelling. The corporate was ultimately incomes $a hundred,000 — a phenomenal success.

Esther is considered significant because, according to historians, she was amongst the primary commercially profitable ladies overseeing a feminine-run enterprise, and she mainly created the meeting-line system, paying the local ladies “liberally”.

She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion results, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside, one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her staff mark the again of each valentine with a purple “H”.

Within the Victorian period, Valentines had been wildly widespread and the elaborate cards were scrutinized for clues — even the position of the stamp on the envelope meant something. Typically the valentine was meant 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 trade for smiles…”

In 1879 — after 30 years in enterprise–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 playing cards have been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)

This is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mom stone island forte dei marmi of the Valentine” begins to get a bit shaky.
It seems, upon much examine, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, started the business valentine business within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he didn’t wish to speak about it as a result of the Taft household were strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mother sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure — I live in North Grafton, a couple of stone’s throw from where Taft labored.)

In 1836, Jotham Taft married Stone Island Outlet Sarah E. Coe stone island forte dei marmi of Rhode Island and two years later they welcomed twin sons. But in 1840, one of many twins died instantly, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham determined to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for trip for the stationer who employed him, and whereas in Germany, he bought many valentines provides — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines with his wife’s help, and in 1844–three years before Esther Howland graduated from faculty–he opened a valentine “factory” in North Grafton (then referred to as New England Village.) But because of his mother’s disapproval, Taft by no means put his personal name on the valentines — solely “Wood” (his middle name) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as considered one of his staff earlier than she opened her own manufacturing facility

Taft and Howland merged into the brand new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a 12 months later, Esther’s father became 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 handed away in 1904.

Sadly, despite all the couples who presumably found their true love because of Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” by no means married.

In 1881, George C. Island Whitney purchased the combined enterprise of Taft and Howland and it grew to become The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for a few years. As a substitute of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and eventually added postcards within the 1890’s. The designs, featuring kids who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” children, were wildly well-liked, although more usually exchanged by children than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney factory 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.)

Earlier on Huff/Post50: Picture GALLERY
Before YOU GO

Photograph GALLERY
14 Bold Amateurs
Valentines Within the U.S. — All of it Started Here

14 Ambitious Amateurs
14 Ambitious Amateurs
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Ben Franklin
In 1778, attempting to raise money 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) the place he fumed about disgraceful “public males” ( whores). In the end, a completely enraged Adams fled Paris, while Franklin carried on, ultimately securing the money and alliance that won the war.

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