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Valentines from the Collection

The celebration of St. Valentine, an early Christian saint, began as a liturgical festival and February 14th is still a feast day in the Anglican Church. Its association with romantic or courtly love arose during the Middle Ages and the practice of exchanging Valentine cards began in the 1700s in England. Early ornate cards incorporated real lace, ribbons, tassels, honeycomb tissue, and were often gilded and embossed. Some incorporated small mirrors with words like “Look on My Love” written beneath them.

The cards in the Cape Ann Museum Collection range from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. Most were acquired by donation from unknown sources.