Friday, February 14, 2014

Esther Howland 1828–1904 & America's 1st commercial valentines

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New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) Howland's red H hallmark, with 5 underneath 1877

Esther Howland (1828–1904) who was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, was the 1st to publish & sell commercial & mass produced Valentine cards made in the United States.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847))

Howland was an artist & businesswoman who is responsible for popularizing Valentine's Day greeting cards in America.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

Graham's American Monthly, observed in 1849 that Saint Valentine's Day had become a national holiday in the United States.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) Howland's red H hallmark, with 1 1/2

After her graduation from Mount Holyoke College in 1847, Howland received an ornate English Valentine from a business associate of her father, when she was 19 years old.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) N.E.V. Co. 5

The practice of sending Valentine's cards had existed in England, long before it became popular in North America.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) In your heart - my home I view - There I'll live - and love for you. The back shows Howland's red H 15 underneath

There is a Valentine in the British Museum in London dating from the 1400s.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) N.E.V. Co. 10

Intrigued with the idea of making similar Valentines & lucky to be the daughter of a prosperous Massachusetts stationer, she began her business importing paper lace & floral decorations from England.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) Weddings now are all the go, Will you marry me or no - Marked H25

Her father operated the largest book & stationery story in Worcester, Massachusetts, & ordered supplies for her project.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

She made a dozen samples, which her salesman brother added to his inventory for his next sales trip for their father's business. Hoping for $200 worth of orders, she was elated; when he returned with over $5,000 worth of business for her.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) Howland's red H hallmark, with 25 underneath

Howland employed friends to produce the large amount of cards the public clamored for, & she developed a thriving business in Worcester, Massachusetts using an assembly line.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) My love unchanging Still will be, Though friends depart and fortune flee. On the back is the NEV.CO.

Between 1840-1860, many sentimental, embossed, & perforated lace paper were imported from England. Howland imported lace-edged blanks from Britain, when she began her business of selling American-made Valentines.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

Her valentines quickly became famous throughout the United States, & Howland was called "The Mother of the American Valentine."

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

Howland's business eventually grossed over $100,000 per year, a large amount of money for the middle of the 19th-century in America.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

Howland finally sold the business in 1881, to the George C. Whitney Company.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

Since 2001, the U.S. Greeting Card Association has been awarding an annual "Esther Howland Award for a Greeting Card Visionary."

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

For further information on these valentines see the American History & Genealogy Project site of Mount Holyoke College History.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) H mark and a price of 10 cents.)

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847)

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) Howland H mark and a price of 25 cents

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) 1847 NEV 35

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) N.E.V. Co. 10 n

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) NEV.CO. over a 5 1881

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) NEV.CO. over a 5

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) NEV.CO. over a 10

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) No rubies on the Indian shore - Outshine thy noble mind; - Its radiance far excels them all, - And blesses human kind.

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) red H over 25

New England Valentine Company (established by Esther Howland 1847) vm


Esther Howland 1828-1904
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