Vintage Valentines Cards - Yesterday and Today

Real Antique Valentines Are Hard to Find, But Reproductions Are Available

A long, long time ago, before e-cards and singing cards, there were paper valentines, many of them made by hand. Early Valentine makers were very creative and used a variety of methods to make each card unique such as cutouts, watercolors, sketches and of course ink on paper. Other additions were such items as dried flowers, scraps of yarn and bits of fabric, feathers, cut locks of hair, and jewels and gems. All of these ingredients worked together to make some of the first Valentine day greetings.

Vintage ValentinesCredit: Amazon Photo
Vintage Valentines for sale


In the latter part of the 1830s European card makers started importing mass-produced greeting cards to the United States. A decade later they were being made in the states, and by the middle of the 1800s, most of the common motifs of Valentine cards were in use and popular - red hearts, Cupid and his bow, flowers, and the like.

Innovations in manufacturing what are today vintage Valentines, for sale in corner drug stores and department stores, made embossed covers a common feature on fancier cards. Around the turn of the century, the rage was for 3-dimensional fold-out cards that could stand up when deployed. These were popular because they were easy to mail but impressive in their full unfolded glory.

For a while there was surge of popularity in Valentines with actual metal mechanisms of various kinds - trains, cars and boats, with moving parts and all. These were still being made in the 1930s, but then fell out of vogue and started gathering dust.

Cupid babyCredit:

During the middle of the last century, manufacturing methods were standardized and cards began to be produced by the millions, along with stickers, books of postcards, and various Valentine-related items such as stationery and envelopes. All of these forms continued up to the present day, with each decade having its particular style and look. Today, if you're looking for vintage Valentines for sale, you have a few ways to go about it.


Because real antique Valentines are extremely collectible, they are sometimes hard to find, depending on the time period you're interested in. The growth of collecting over the last couple of decades along with the rise of the Internet means that good actual vintage pieces have become more scarce, but at the same time there are more places to look for them. Many web sites are dedicated to greeting cards from the old days, and you can find them for sale on e-bay as well. Locally, thrift stores and antique stores often have boxes of cards to browse through, and you might find some real old-fashioned Valentines hidden away.


For most of us, however, the closest we will get to vintage Valentines is through reproductions. If you just want to appreciate the artwork and the history of the motifs, symbols and popular culture of Valentine's day cards and other paraphernalia, there are many books available of postcards, stickers, and greeting card reproductions. They may not be the real thing, but they can evoke the feeling of happier, bygone times, and maybe you'll find some great vintage Valentines for sale, and get some ideas for your current Valentine.