Friday, February 12, 2010

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Although Valentine's Day has been around for a long time, and has been celebrated in this country for centuries, (That's right, kids. It really wasn't invented by the candy and greeting card companies.) Valentines given to sweethearts as tokens of affection didn't become popular until the advent of the Civil War. In true Victorian style, cards were adorned with satin ribbons, lace, mother-of-pearl ornamentation, and spun glass.

Manufacturers of Valentines came into being during this time. Mass production before the Civil War was virtually unheard of, but because of demand, many products started being produced in mass quantities, including weaponry, clothing (primarily uniforms and shoes for the soldiers), and canned food items. Because mass production happened so rapidly, much of the merchandise was deemed as being "shoddy."

Not so with Valentines, however. These elaborate cards were given hand-painted accents in gold leaf, or had special ornaments glued on. Many Valentines depicted lovers parting (as in the soldier going off to war), or a tent with the flaps opened to reveal the lonely soldier inside. Another novelty included in Civil War Valentines was a place inside where the sender could place a lock of hair.