Valentines Within the U.S. — It all Began Here
Worcester, MA, the as soon as-bustling industrial metropolis 45 minutes west of Boston, where I dwell, is enormously pleased with its fairly peculiar list of “famous firsts”, including barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the start control pill, the first excellent game in major league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a soon-to-be published tell-all ebook “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historical Museum and written by me.
And yearly, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the primary commercial valentines in this country due to a foresighted young woman named Esther Howland, identified as the “Mom of the Valentine.”
Esther Howland (1828-1904) attended Mount Holyoke at the same time as Emily Dickinson. She was the daughter of a profitable Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she obtained a frilly English valentine that inspired her to ask her father to order materials from England so that she might assemble her personal. She then satisfied her brother, a salesman for the company, to point out a few of her valentines on his gross sales rounds.
The preliminary demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered some of her mates to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them around a protracted desk on the third ground of her residence. The company was finally earning $a hundred,000 stone island polo shirt junior — a phenomenal success.
Esther is taken into account vital because, in accordance with historians, she was among the first commercially profitable ladies overseeing a female-run enterprise, and she mainly created the meeting-line system, paying the local women “liberally”.
She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion effects, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside, one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her employees mark the back of every valentine with a purple “H”.
In the Victorian era, Valentines had been wildly fashionable and the flowery playing cards have been scrutinized for clues — even the place of the stamp on the envelope meant something. Usually the valentine was intended as a marriage proposal.
“The final week has been a merry one in Amherst, & notes have flown round like snowflakes. Historic 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. Collectively they formed the new England Valentine Co. (and their playing cards have been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)
That is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mother of the Valentine” begins to get a little bit shaky.
It appears, upon a lot research, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village close to Worcester, started the business valentine enterprise within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he didn’t prefer to discuss it because the Taft family had been strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mom sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure — I stay in North Grafton, a few 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 instantly, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham determined to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he purchased many valentines provides — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.
When he returned, Taft began making valentines along with his wife’s help, and in 1844–three years earlier than Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “manufacturing unit” in North Grafton (then referred to as New England Village.) But due to his mom’s disapproval, Taft by no means put his own title on the valentines — only “Wooden” (his center name) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft skilled Elizabeth Howland as one in every of his staff earlier than she opened her own factory
Taft and Howland merged into the brand new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a 12 months later, Esther’s father grew to become ill and she left her business to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one in every of her brothers and she passed away in 1904.
Unfortunately, despite all the couples who presumably discovered their true love due to Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” never married.
In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the combined enterprise of Taft and Howland and it turned The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for a few years. As an alternative of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and ultimately added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, featuring youngsters who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” children, have been wildly widespread, although extra usually exchanged by children than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing unit closed, because 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: Photograph GALLERY
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14 Bold Amateurs
Valentines In the U.S. — It all Began Right here
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In 1778, making an attempt to boost 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 sofa (aka, his letters to Abigail) the place he fumed about disgraceful “public men” (i.e.media whores). Ultimately, a completely enraged Adams fled Paris, whereas Franklin carried on, finally securing the cash and alliance that received the war.