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The ‘Mother Of The American Valentine’ Never Married

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Worcester, MA, the as soon as-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston where I stay, is enormously happy with its reasonably peculiar record of “well-known firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the start management pill, the first good sport in main league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon.

And yearly about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first industrial valentines on this nation due to a foresighted younger girl named Esther Howland, known as the “Mom of the Valentine.”

Esther Howland (1828-1904) attended Mount Holyoke at the same time as Emily Dickinson. She was the daughter of a successful Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she obtained a frilly English valentine that impressed her to ask her father to order supplies from England in order that she may assemble her personal. She then satisfied her brother, a salesman for the company, stone island 63840 to indicate just a few of her valentines on his sales rounds.

The initial demand was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her associates to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them around a long desk on the third ground of her house. The company was finally incomes $one hundred,000–a phenomenal success.

Esther is taken into account important because, in line with historians, she was amongst the first commercially profitable ladies overseeing a feminine-run business, and she mainly created the meeting-line system, paying the native women “liberally”. She introduced layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion effects, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside–one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her workers mark the again of every valentine with a crimson “H”.

In the Victorian period, Valentines were wildly common, and the frilly playing cards have been scrutinized for clues–even the position of the stamp on the envelope meant one thing. Usually the valentine was supposed as a marriage proposal.

“The last week has been a merry one in Amherst; notes have flown round like snowflakes. Ancient gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in trade for smiles…”

In 1879–after 30 years in business–Esther Howland merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Collectively they formed the brand new England Valentine Co. (and their playing cards have been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)

That is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mom of the Valentine” begins to get a bit shaky.
It appears, upon much study, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village close to Worcester, began the commercial valentine business in the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he did not like to talk about it, because the Taft family were strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mom sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure–I stay in North Grafton, a few stone’s throw from where Taft worked.)

In 1836, Jotham Taft married Sarah E. Coe of Rhode Island and two stone island 63840 years later, they welcomed twin sons. But in 1840, one of many twins died all of the sudden, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham decided to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a buying journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he bought many valentines provides–laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines with his spouse’s assist, and in 1844–3 years earlier than Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “manufacturing unit” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) However because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal title on the valentines–solely “Wood” (his center identify) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as one in all his employees earlier than she opened her personal factory.

Taft and Howland merged into the brand new England Valentine Co. in 1879, and a 12 months later Esther’s father grew to become in poor health and she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with certainly one of her brothers and she passed away in 1904.Sadly, despite all the couples who presumably discovered their true love due to Esther’s creations, the “Mom of the Valentine” never married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the mixed enterprise of Taft and Howland and it became The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine manufacturing for many years. As an alternative of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and eventually added postcards within the 1890’s. The Whitney designs, featuring kids who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” kids, were wildly fashionable, though extra often exchanged by kids than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing unit closed, because of wartime paper shortages.