Our ephemera collection began with old Valentines, which I have always found irresistible. There's something kind of sweet and forlorn about finding a stack of them at a antique shop or flea market. The original recipients must've cared enough to keep them, and once those folks were gone, someone else couldn't bear to throw them away.
We'll skip over the step when someone else, aka a dealer, sweeps them up and sells them for cold, hard cash. It's never much cold, hard cash, though--I don't think we've ever paid more than ten bucks for a single card--and as our collection has grown, it's been fascinating to see how the motifs and sentiments have changed over the years.
As the photo at the top suggests, we have a lot of these things, so I'm only posting a selection here. First, this group of "insult" valentines from, I imagine, the 1920s:
Here's a card from the 1930s that I always find a little sad, since the message seems to imply that a shy gentleman might use it as the prelude to a proposal, if not as a proposal itself...and yet, there's no signature inside, and it appears never to have been used:
Planes (and Zeppelins, apparently) were popular greeting-card motifs in the early 20th century:
And finally--WAY better than any Spongebob Squarepants Valentine-making kit you might buy at CVS, this adorable Art-Deco one:
We have lots more...enough for Valentine's Day ephemera blogs for years to come! Have a happy one, dear readers.