It's hard to know how exactly the tradition of sending greetings on the Day of St. Valentine started. We don't even know who was St. Valentine, after whom the 14th of February eventually became the day for expressing romantic feelings.
We can trace the feast of St. Valentine to the 5th century when St. Valentine's Day replaced the inglorious Lupercalia, the Roman festival of fertility. The first cards were supposed to be sent much later and are closely related to the publishing of Chaucer's poem The Parlament of Foules at the end of the 14th century.
These cards were not necessarily romantic. In fact, they were all kinds of cards, sent between friends, relatives, business partners, etc., often organized as pranks. Early postage was organized differently than today. It was the receiver who had to pay for the package and the sender could send a long list of insults or simply a lot of useless stuff (the bigger the package the higher the price) and often took advantage of it.
Anyway, Valentine's cards were rare and expensive, although they became quite popular in the 19th century when people with artistic talent and business sense started making them on a larger scale. A fine example was Esther Howland (1828-1904), often called the mother of America's Valentine.
One such card could reach around one hundred dollars (calculated to today's value), so most people still relied on their own imagination and artistic skills.
With innovations like stamps, bought by senders, and improved printing techniques, Valentine's cards became affordable to the masses. They were still sent from everybody to just about everybody. Different materials were used and different printing techniques made new cards very exquisite, sometimes with imaginative compositions, 3d structures, funny quotes, designs with popular characters from different areas of life, delicate cuttings...
We also need to mention the inclusion of an envelope which gave privacy to the correspondence between the sender and the receiver. While the sending of cards may not be anymore as attractive as at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, it's still expected that only in the USA about 1,5 billion dollars is spent every single year just for so-called Valentines.
Here is our rising selection of Valentine's vintage postcards with two examples for each artist (they are alphabetically listed):
Frances Isabelle Lockwood Brundage (1854-1937)
Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle (1865-1934)
Maude Goodman (1853-1938)
Paul Hey (1867-1952)
Jenny Eugenia Nystrom (1854-1946)
Samuel Loren Schmucker (1879-1921)
We will add more, so don't forget to bookmark this page!