Vintage Valentines That Celebrate Old-Fashioned Love | LoveToKnow (2024)

Vintage Valentines That Celebrate Old-Fashioned Love | LoveToKnow (1)

If you're looking for a creative way to send your love (or even just your like), vintage Valentine's Day cards are so cute you won't even believe it. There are tons of different styles, and they can also be surprisingly valuable!

Popular with collectors of ephemera, these old greetings offer insight into the values and fashions of bygone eras. Whether you're starting a collection or hoping to learn more about a valentine you already own, it helps to know a bit about where to buy these cute cards, the characteristics of each major style, and how much vintage valentines are worth.

Finding the Value of an Antique Valentine

Valentines are emblematic of their time (remember Rugrats valentines or cards with the Simpsons?), and they definitely provide valuable insight about the fashions and events of the era in which they were produced. The thing is, some antique valentines also have a monetary value. You can find these old greeting cards for as little as $2, but some examples can fetch over $100. A bunch of factors can influence how much an old valentine is worth.

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Factors Affecting Value

According to Kovels, there are a number of factors that indicate a valuable antique valentine:

The best way to figure out what an antique valentine is worth is to have it professionally appraised by a specialist in ephemera. To find a local resource, inquire at antique shops in your area. You can also look up similar valentines on auctions sites or contact the National Valentine Collectors Association for help with identification and appraisal.

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Where to Buy Vintage Valentine Cards

Most antique stores carry a few vintage greeting cards, including valentines. Still, your neighborhood antique store may not be the best option if you're interested in a specific era or theme. If you're shopping online to buy vintage valentines, don't forget to check out the following sites:

  • eBay - An eBay search turns up hundreds of beautiful and quirky vintage and antique Valentine's Day cards from all different eras. The selection changes all the time as auctions come and go, so check back frequently if you're looking for something specific.
  • Etsy - Sellers on Etsy's vintage section offer more than 3,000 different Valentine's Day cards dating from the 1900s through the 1970s. Once again, the selection changes all the time, so it makes sense to snap something up if you see it.
  • Ruby Lane - This online antiques mall carries a number of vintage greeting cards with a Valentine's Day theme. They date from the Victorian era through the 1980s. Each card is unique, so the selection changes.

You can also find antique valentines in old scrapbooks, which you often see at flea markets.

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Quick Tip

You have the best chance of negotiating with sellers for a great price in March or April after seasonal sales of valentines are over.

Antique Valentine's Day Cards Through the Years

Just as you swapped valentines in elementary school, people have traded cards for over a century. Since the mid-19th century, people have exchanged greeting cards in celebration of Valentine's Day, and many of these cards still exist. Each era had its own themes and styles, and collectors often choose to focus their efforts on one particular time period or motif.

Understanding the hallmarks of various eras can help you choose a specific type of card to collect or figure out how old your valentine is.

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Early Victorian Valentines: 1850 Through 1880

The custom of exchanging valentines truly took off around 1850. At this time, a woman named Esther Howland began a very successful business producing Valentine's Day cards. People in England and the United States also made cards to give to sweethearts.

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Expect to see some of the following themes and styles in greeting cards from this era:

  • Greetings with die-cut paper lace and fabric lace
  • Pieces of silk fabric and ribbon on cards
  • Valentines with flowers and leaves made of silk or paper
  • Cards with hand-painted designs
  • Single-sided cards
  • Cards with flaps that could be lifted

Later Victorian Valentines: 1880s Through 1900

During the later Victorian years, valentines became easier to mass produce. Lithographed cards were all the rage during this period. The cards were comparatively inexpensive, and there are more of these cards in existence. Cards from the late-Victorian era often feature these motifs and materials:

  • Color lithography printing on cards
  • Postcards and cards that could be opened
  • Fan-shaped greetings
  • Cards with hearts, birds, cherubs, and flowers
  • Pop-up cards with honeycomb paper inside
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Early 20th Century Valentines: 1900s Through the 1930s

This era saw a departure from the traditional rectangular or fan-shaped card. Valentine art became more detailed and varied, resulting in some surprising and fun themes and styles:

  • Printed cards in the shape of children, animals, and objects
  • Cards featuring modern inventions, such as radios, telephones, and airplanes
  • Valentines printed with movie stars from the era, such as Jean Harlow
  • Greetings with timely themes like women's voting rights, World War I, and changing fashions
  • Cards with clever puns on common words
  • Fewer greetings featuring dimensional elements like pop-ups

Mid-20th Century Valentines: 1940s Through the 1960s

In the mid-20th century, there was a surge in valentines featuring cars and other vehicles. In addition, you can expect to see some of the following elements in Valentine's Day greetings from this era:

  • Cards featuring references to World War II, Nazis, dictators, and other war-related themes
  • Valentines with space travel images
  • Cards referencing separation from a loved one
  • Full-color greetings with animals and children
  • Mechanical cards that moved when you pulled or pushed on a part
  • Cards from noted manufacturers like Hallmark and American Greetings
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Read More

  • Value of Old Postcards

Plenty to Love for Collectors

Vintage valentines offer unique insight into the values and fashions of their eras, and they also offer a charming opportunity for collectors. Whether you are creating a large collection or simply want to enjoy one or two of these unique greeting cards, there's plenty to love about Valentine's Day cards from years past.

© 2024 LoveToKnow Media. All rights reserved.

Vintage Valentines That Celebrate Old-Fashioned Love | LoveToKnow (2024)


What is a Victorian Valentine? ›

Victorian valentines commonly feature churches or church spires, signifying honorable intentions and fidelity. Victorian Valentine Card, 1870. The cards, often handmade, featured lace, pressed grass and Valentine's jokes. One card, titled “The Bark of Love”, featured a fairy in a gilded carriage drawn by two swans.

What is the dark history of Valentine's day? ›

One Valentine was a priest in third-century Rome who defied Emperor Claudius II after the ruler outlawed marriage for young men. St. Valentine would perform marriages in secret for young lovers, ultimately leading to his death.

Are vintage valentines worth anything? ›

These cards were very popular throughout the U.S. during the period from 1900 to the end of the 1920s. Today, some of these surviving mechanical cards are worth thousands of dollars apiece as collectables. Others can be found in antique shops and online markets like eBay and Etsy for under $50.

What is the worlds oldest valentines card? ›

The World's Oldest Valentine's Day Card

Dating to February 1477, the love letter was written by Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston. Margery refers to John as her “right well-beloved Valentine” and beseeches him to marry her despite the fact she hasn't been able to convince her father to increase her dowry.

What was Valentine's Day in the olden days? ›

Possible ancient origins

In Ancient Rome, Lupercalia was observed February 13–15 on behalf of Pan and Juno, pagan gods of love, marriage and fertility. It was a rite connected to purification and health, and had only slight connection to fertility (as a part of health) and none to love.

What was Valentine's Day like in the 1800s? ›

In the late 1800s, the holiday was also commercialized, with businesses printing and selling pre-written Valentine's messages. Around that time, people started giving candy and flowers to loved ones or going on romantic getaways with their partners.

What does the Bible say about Valentine's Day? ›

1 John 4:7-12. Dear friends: let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

What's the meaning of Lupercalia? ›

Lupercalia, also known as Lupercal, was a pastoral festival of Ancient Rome observed annually on February 15 to purify the city, promoting health and fertility. Lupercalia was also known as dies Februatus, after the purification instruments called februa, the basis for the month named Februarius. Lupercalia.

What is the pagan origin of Valentine's Day? ›

One of the most common explanations is that Valentine's Day has its origins in the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia.

What is the most bought item on Valentine's Day? ›

This is probably why 57% of consumers buy Valentine's Day candy as a gift for their loved ones. Other popular gifts include cards (40%), flowers (37%), and an evening out (31%).

What is the most bought valentines Day gift? ›

What are the most popular gifts to send for Valentine's Day?
  • Flowers & Chocolates. ...
  • Cook a Romantic Dinner Together. ...
  • Treasure Hunt. ...
  • Couples Activity. ...
  • Make Your Own Card.

What are candy hearts called? ›

Sweethearts (also known as conversation hearts) are small heart-shaped sugar candies sold around Valentine's Day. Each heart is printed with a message such as "Be Mine", "Kiss Me", "Call Me", "Let's Get Busy", or "Miss You".

What is the most expensive Valentine's card? ›

The most expensive card is sold at $5,000 in the collection, with some Valentine's greetings offered at a mere $3,500 price tag.

Who is known as the Mother of the Valentine? ›

Esther Howland, Mount Holyoke class of 1847, is known as the “mother of the American valentine.” At a time when most women didn't have the opportunity to be employed, let alone lead, Howland founded her card-making business and pioneered an entire industry.

What were mean spirited valentines known as in the Victorian era ___ valentines? ›

In the Victorian era, there was no better way to let someone know they were unwanted than with the ultimate insult: the vinegar valentine. Also called “comic valentines,” these unwelcome notes were sometimes crass and always a bit emotionally damaging in the anti-spirit of Valentine's Day.

What is the female version of valentine? ›

The usual feminine form of the name is Valentina.

What is the female version of Valentine's Day? ›

Galentine's Day celebrated on February 13, a day before Valentine's Day, is all about ladies cherishing their female friends. Coinciding with 'Kiss Day', Galentine's Day came into a trend because of the popular sitcom “Parks and Recreation".

Did Victorians marry for love? ›

Indeed, love was the driving force behind the Victorian concept of companionate marriage, though finding a mate who was of at least equal status was a given. It was important to make marital choices informed by both the head and the heart.

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