Vintage Valentines

Uploaded by mountholyokenews on 08.02.2011

Lori Satter '07: Welcome to the archives and special collections here at Mount Holyoke College.
We're here today to talk a little bit about the Valentines collection that we're fortunate
to enjoy down here in the archives.
If you start by looking at these three Valentines by Esther Howland you'll see a representative start
of the American Valentine's greeting card industry.
Esther Howland was a Mount Holyoke graduate in 1847 and it's kind of an interesting story
about her and Mount Holyoke
because the founder of our school Mary Lyon was against Valentines and discouraged or
even forbade the sending of Valentines.
There's a great line in an Emily Dickinson letter that she was dismayed that she didn't
receive a Valentine during her time here.
As we move through the case you'll see the evolution of the greeting card industry.
You start to see paper lace cards in the early 1900s, cards become a little less lacy and
more visually intricate.
Up there you have what's called a home made card and its kind of like a collage of sorts.
As you move further down the case you'll see how race and certain ethnic stereotypes really
influenced the greeting card industry.
You will see references to savages and other kind of derogatory references to native Americans.
As you continue through time in the early part of the 20th century, you'll see that
post cards became a huge craze and
a vibrant part of the greeting card industry and those are just three examples.
So now in our chronology, we have moved into the early part of the 20th century and here
we have a really wonderful example of a mechanical card printed in Bavaria.
What's neat about this is that when you pull the tabs on the side, the butterfly wings
actually move and that was a new innovation in the greeting card industry during that period.
Then we start to get into pull down cards and this is really incredible because when
you pull it out of the envelope when it was mailed to you it will lay kind of like this,
it will be pretty flat. Then it really starts to open up like a pop up book, except it's
a greeting card which I think is really beautiful.
Then if you look over here, we have a wonderful example of a paper lace card.
This is a great illustration of how materials changed in the Valentine industry.
When you start out, it's very ornate, a lot of lace, a lot of intricate design
and then as paper becomes cheaper to produce, materials start to go down in quality, which
you can see on that card.
Last but not least, on this table you're seeing a sort of primitive to our eyes now version
of a computer generated Valentine graphic,
which I think is a great example of how the computer has really influenced the greeting
card industry and so we have one example of the beginning of that transformation.
Now that you've gotten a taste for the Valentines exhibit, we'd like to invite you to come and
see the Valentines in person. They will be up on exhibit through February 21st."