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

Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston, the place I live, is enormously proud of its rather peculiar list of “well-known firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the beginning control pill, the first perfect game in major league baseball, the primary liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a quickly-to-be published tell-all book “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historic Museum and written by me.

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And every year, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first industrial valentines on this nation due to a foresighted younger woman named Esther Howland, identified because the “Mother of the Valentine.”

The initial 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 ground of her residence. The company was eventually incomes $a hundred,000 — a phenomenal success.

Esther is taken into account vital as a result of, in response to historians, she was amongst the primary commercially profitable girls overseeing a feminine-run enterprise, and she basically created the assembly-line system, paying the native ladies “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 workers mark the back of every valentine with a pink “H”.

Within the Victorian period, Valentines were wildly fashionable and the frilly stone island junior blue reflective hooded jacket playing cards had been scrutinized for clues — even the place of the stamp on the envelope meant something. 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. Ancient gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in exchange 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 cards had been 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 study, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, started the business valentine enterprise within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he did not like to talk about it because the Taft family have been 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 where 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 many twins died suddenly, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham determined to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a buying trip for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he purchased many valentines supplies — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines with his wife’s help, and in 1844–three years earlier than Esther Howland graduated from faculty–he opened a valentine “manufacturing unit” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) However due to his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his own identify on the valentines — solely “Wood” (his middle identify) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as one among his workers before she opened her own manufacturing facility

Taft and Howland merged into the brand new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a yr later, Esther’s father became in poor health and she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one among her brothers and she passed away in 1904.

Unfortunately, despite all of the couples who presumably discovered their true love because of Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” never married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the mixed enterprise of Taft and Howland and it became The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for a few years. Instead of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and eventually added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, featuring kids who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” youngsters, had been wildly common, although extra often exchanged by kids than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing facility closed, as a result of wartime paper shortages

(The valentines above, from my collection, are German and English-made — sadly not by Howland or Taft.)

Earlier on Huff/Post50: Photo GALLERY
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Valentines In the U.S. — All of it Began Right here

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Ben Franklin
In 1778, trying to raise cash for our revolt, Ben pranced round Paris in frontier drag–full-on Daniel Boone, coonskin cap and all–exhibiting the French what they expected to see: the self-invented American. This mummery drove John Adams to his therapy sofa (aka, his letters to Abigail) where he fumed about disgraceful “public males” ( whores). Ultimately, a totally enraged Adams fled Paris, whereas Franklin carried on, finally securing the money and alliance that received the war.

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