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Valentines Within the U.S. — All of it Started Right here

Worcester, MA, the as soon as-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston, where I live, is enormously pleased with its fairly peculiar checklist of “famous firsts”, including barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the birth control pill, the first perfect sport in major league baseball, the primary liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a quickly-to-be printed tell-all guide “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the stone island cable knit jumper Worcester Historical Museum and written by me.

Reflective Print Cotton T-Shirt in BlueAnd yearly, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first commercial valentines on this country due to a foresighted younger girl named Esther Howland, stone island cable knit jumper identified 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 profitable Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she received 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 convinced her brother, a salesman for the corporate, to indicate just a few of her valentines on his gross sales rounds.

The preliminary demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her pals to help her assemble the valentines, seating them around a protracted desk on the third floor of her home. The corporate was ultimately incomes $a hundred,000 — a phenomenal success.

Esther is considered significant as a result of, according to historians, she was among the first commercially successful girls overseeing a female-run enterprise, and she basically created the assembly-line system, paying the local ladies “liberally”.

She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion results, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside, one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her employees mark the back of each valentine with a crimson “H”.

In the Victorian era, Valentines were wildly fashionable and the flowery cards had been scrutinized for clues — even the position of the stamp on the envelope meant one thing. Usually the valentine was intended as a marriage proposal.

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

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

This is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mother of the Valentine” begins to get a bit of shaky.
It appears, upon much examine, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, started the commercial valentine enterprise in the U.S. even before Miss Howland did, however he did not prefer to speak about it as a result of the Taft household were strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mother sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure — I dwell in North Grafton, a couple of stone’s throw from the place Taft worked.)

In 1836, Jotham Taft married Sarah E. Coe of Rhode Island and two years later they welcomed twin sons. However in 1840, one of the twins died all of a sudden, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham decided to take his wife and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for journey for the stationer who employed him, and whereas in Germany, he bought many valentines supplies — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines along with his wife’s help, and in 1844–three years before Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “factory” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) But because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his own identify on the valentines — solely “Wood” (his middle identify) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft educated Elizabeth Howland as considered one of his employees before 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 became ill and she left her business to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one among her brothers and she handed away in 1904.

Unfortunately, regardless of all the couples who presumably found their true love because of Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” by no means married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney purchased the combined business of Taft and Howland and it became The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for a few years. Instead of playing cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and ultimately added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, that includes children who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” children, were wildly in style, although more typically exchanged by kids than grownup lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing facility closed, on account of wartime paper shortages

(The valentines above, from my collection, are German and English-made — sadly not by Howland or Taft.)

Earlier on Huff/Post50: Picture GALLERY
Before YOU GO

14 Bold Amateurs
Valentines In the U.S. — It all Started Right here

14 Formidable Amateurs
14 Bold Amateurs
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Ben Franklin
In 1778, attempting to raise money for our revolt, Ben pranced around Paris in frontier drag–full-on Daniel Boone, coonskin cap and all–exhibiting the French what they expected to see: the self-invented American. This mummery drove John Adams to his therapy sofa (aka, his letters to Abigail) the place he fumed about disgraceful “public men” ( whores). Ultimately, a completely enraged Adams fled Paris, while Franklin carried on, finally securing the money and alliance that gained the war.