This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian.
Like it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day is upon us. With all the advertisements for expensive jewelry, bountiful bouquets and fine dining, one might overlook the significance of a good old fashioned Valentine. Yep, a card can hold just as much meaning as a giant teddy bear and in the age of text messaging and emails, a handwritten note certainly adds a personal touch to the occasion. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy a good sense of humor when it comes to February 14th, as evidenced by several of the items shown below.
After Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for card-sharing. An estimated 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year. Whether the card is delivered in person or travels across an ocean to reach its destination, the sentiment remains. This comical card, received by a soldier during WWII, celebrates the holiday with patriotism and a playful spirit. It also features partial lyrics from the classic military song, “We’re in the Army Now”. (Words by Tell Taylor and Ole Olsen. Music by Isham Jones. 1917.)
Esther Howland was one of the first commercial manufacturers of Valentine’s Day cards in the United States. At the age of 20, she began a long, successful career creating delicate greeting cards made in a Victorian style with high-quality paper and lace imported from England. Credited with a number of innovations in greeting card design, the “Mother of the American Valentine” used bright wafer paper under white lace to show contrast and later created a shadow box effect that somewhat resembled a pop-up book. While these cards do not bear the trademark red “H” of a Howland original, I’m not convinced they were not made by her company. Regardless, they are fine examples of that unique style of Valentine card-making in the second half of the 19th century.
Playing with the slightly cheekier side of Valentine’s Day, this unusual card includes a poem from the perspective of a less-than-subtle suitor attempting to woo a widow into his arms. Be sure to take a closer look at the artwork around the perimeter of the card. Although presumably meant to be humorous, it’s surprisingly dark and disturbing. Think Edward Gorey meets Hallmark.
Whatever your plans are for February 14th, here’s hoping Cupid is kind to you… now I’m going to go fetch some chocolate!
This post was written by Miranda Schwartz, cataloging assistant.
The New-York Historical Society’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library has a rich collection of about 500 English and American gift annuals. What is a gift annual? the modern reader may well ask. It’s an annual compendium of poetry and prose, usually heavily illustrated, gilt-edged, and bound in embossed leather or gold-blocked cloth. These annuals were popular gifts for women and children in the mid-19th century. Where today we...Read More
Most people do not associate Santa Claus with war, but in fact the connection goes back to Santa's very beginnings. Our popular image of Santa was created by cartoonist Thomas Nast during the Civil War. Nast's first Santa illustrations, published in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper's Weekly, featured Santa visiting dejected Union soldiers.
Although Santa's image became ever more jolly after the end of the Civil War, his association with soldiers has proven...Read More
This post was written by Tammy Kiter, Manuscript Reference Librarian
June 6, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The Allied Invasion of Normandy was the largest seaborne invasion in military history. Allied troops consisted of approximately 150,000 service members representing the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Norway and numerous other countries. This strategically organized operation paved the way for the attacks against German-occupied Western Europe, led to the restoration of the French Republic and...Read More
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