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Victorian Valentines

During the Victorian era as advances in printing spread, Valentine cards became popular. The modern postal service implemented the penny post, which also made it easier to mail written Valentines. (Before that time, postage was so pricey that most cards were delivered by hand.) In 1840, a woman by the name of Esther A. Howland sold the first mass-produced Valentine cards in America. Her first year of business brought an unexpected $5,000 in cards, and larger companies followed suit almost immediately. Howland's cards did away with the laborious task of making homemade valentines. Prior to her business, Victorian lovers made a number of different cards: pinprick valentines, made by pricking tiny holes in paper with a pin to resemble the look of lace; Cutout valentines, lace-look cards made by folding paper several times and cutting out a lace design with small, sharp scissors; acrostic valentines, which had verses in which the first letters in the lines spelled out the beloved's name; and rebus valentines, verses in which small pictures took the place of some of the words (e.g., an eye instead of "I").

Beautiful handmade Valentines were often small works of art, richly decorated with silk, satin or lace, flowers or feathers and even gold leaf. Some of the more unusual valentines were created by lonely sailors during the Victorian era; these unique cards used seashells of various sizes to create hearts, flowers and other designs or to cover heart-shaped boxes. Create your own Victorian valentines this year, or consider hosting a Victorian valentine-making party for your friends. Have everyone bring their own Victorian clip art or stickers, and you can provide the rest of the materials. You can find Victorian clip art in craft stores, books, stickers, and on wrapping paper. You can look for clip art from old greeting cards, magazines, etc. We invite you to try your hand at making your own Victorian Valentine. Your recipient will be delighted to receive a handmade work of art!

Small paper doilies (white, gold, or silver)
Heavy cardstock Paper
Gold paint pen (acrylic paint can be used, but a paint pen is easier)
Victorian clip art
Ribbon or lace, if desired

1. Cut the cardstock paper into desired size. You can either make a folded card or a one-sided card.
2. Cut doilies into desired shapes. Fit them to the shape of the card leaving a minimum of 1 cm border from the edge of the cardstock.
3.Cut out any victorian clip art that you want to add to the card.
4. Arrange the pieces you have cut out on the card stock, layering the clip art on top of the doily.
5. Glue pieces together, being careful not to use too much glue or else the cardstock may wrinkle.
6. Add any stickers, trim or ribbon that you may want. Ribbon can be tied in little bows and glued at the knot.
7. You can also glue a doily to the insert of your envelope for an added touch of elegance.
8. Use gold paint pen to draw borders or add special words to your card.