In a digital age where e-cards, email and texts are a click away, many still long for the old feel of opening up an envelope and seeing someone’s handwriting. There’s something special about getting a card that you know somebody spent time making just for you. Anyone can send an email, but it is about dedicating time and effort in this craft that is actually a lot of fun.
The majority of early Victorian valentines were customarily made by hand from honeycombed tissue, watercolors, paper puffs, colored inks, embossed paper hearts and exquisite lace. These were truly beautifully-created small works of art, often adorned with silk or satin (in addition) to lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. Such fragile honeycomb designs remained the vogue until around 1909.
There were many different styles of early Victorian valentines, including:
Acrostic — valentines containing verses in which the first lines spelled-out the loved one’s name.
Cutout — valentines made by folding the paper several times and then cutting-out a lacelike design with small sharp-pointed scissors.
Fraktur — valentines with ornamental lettering in the style of illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages.
Pinprick — valentines made by pricking tiny holes in paper with a pin or needle and thus creating the appearance of lace.
Theorem or Poonah — valentines with designs which were painted through a stencil cut in oil paper. This particular style originated in the Orient.
Puzzik or Puzzle Purse — quaint valentines, customarily homemade, which contained a folded puzzle to be read, solved and then refolded. Not only was it necessary to decipher the message, it was also necessary to refold the paper correctly once it was opened. This valentine contained many folds of verses that had to be read in a certain sequence. The order of the verses was usually numbered and the recipient would have to twist the folds in order to determine what had been written.
Rebus — valentines which contained romantic verses written in ink with certain words omitted and illustrated by tiny pictures instead (the image of an eye would take the place of the word “I,” for example). Meant to be a riddle, these valentines were not always necessarily easy to decipher. The rebus valentine had many forms, but the one mentioned herein was the most common and the most popular.
Sara from Doie Lounge attends an annual Valentine’s Day crafting fete with her host collecting paper, cards, print-outs, stickers, beads, wallpaper, and anything else that might look good on a card and then sets it out with glue and scissors and let’s friends go to work. People of all ages sit for hours while crafting, talking, and eating.
“It reminds me of art class in elementary school, in the best way possible. And from paper straws to red velvet cake, no detail is overlooked!”
“My most vivid preschool memory was checking the “mailboxes” that we each constructed, on Valentine’s Day, to see who had left me a Valentine. Spoiler alert, each kid had to make one for everyone in the class, but I still remember my excitement as I pulled out each little frilly card. My love affair with this special day started then, at 4 years old. Even when I got older and learned first hand what the phrase “love hurts” meant, the hopeless romantic and eternal optimist in me always loves a day that celebrates love.”
Source: Many thanks to Sara Kirsner with Doie Lounge
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Photography: Valorie Darling