Be My Valentine

Text and Images by
Rodney Kemerer
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member

Long before the internet and eBay, the only way to find vintage Valentine’s Day cards was to dig through dusty boxes at garage and estate sales. Looking for love in all the dusty places. It is hard to describe the feeling of discovery when a vintage card would be unearthed after sleeping for decades.

Historically, the roots of St. Valentine’s Day go back, loosely to the Romans and “The Feast of Lupercalia.” A horrifying holiday by any standards. Go ahead and look it up but you’ve been warned. This later morphed into the celebration of St. Valentine. In 1382 Chaucer made a reference to the day in a poem, and in 1537 Henry VII declared it a national holiday. We have never looked back.

Collected here is a sample of the cards I have unearthed over the years. Each tells a unique story. The elaborate three dimensional Victorian cards, mostly impressive German lithography, used “floriography” to send hidden messages in the card as each flower had a special meaning.

The cards that were sent and signed, mostly in ink, are all that remain of desire and its endless expressions. The lovers long gone, but their declarations of love live on.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

6 Responses

  1. Rachel ault
    | Reply

    Betty’s letter made my day ! Maybe my month . Such beautiful thoughts and bring them home by pruning ! Xxx

  2. Lynn Rothacher
    | Reply

    I can’t fathom a better way to kick off the month of romance than with Rodney Kemerer’s glorious collection of vintage Valentine’s Day cards accompanied by his sentimental musings: “The lovers long gone, but their declarations of love live on.” Oh, to be the bonnie lass in the crepe paper skirt, courted by two suitors (one in a pith helmet and the other sporting a newsy, no less!) Or the lovely lady in a boat festooned with flower garlands. Or to have sweet nothings whispered in your ear against a backdrop of forget-me-nots and roses. Sigh…♥️

  3. Elaine Stein
    | Reply

    All your valentines were so special!
    I loved each & every one of them! Thanks! ❤️?

  4. Terry Murkins
    | Reply

    You have a true collection of LOVE Rodney that will live forever.

  5. Claire Cabrey
    | Reply

    These nostalgic cards are truly heart-warming and touching. What a wonderful collection you’ve compiled Rodney. Very interesting history too.

  6. Vera Dunn
    | Reply

    For some unforeseen reason these lovely cards reminded me of being in first grade. Long before the internet and texting emoji hearts, valentines were passed out to everyone in the class on Valentine’s Day. At least I remember holding my breath waiting to see if one of those hand written cards would land on my desk.
    Thanks Rodney, for jarring my memory bank with your beautiful collection of Valentine’s Day cards from the past

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