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Valentines Within the U.S. — It all Started Right here

Worcester, MA, the once-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston, the place I live, is enormously proud of its somewhat peculiar list of “famous firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the birth management pill, the first good game in main league baseball, the first liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon (starring in a soon-to-be published inform-all e-book “The Saga of Smiley”, printed by the Worcester Historical Museum and written by me.

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And yearly, about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first industrial valentines in this country due to a foresighted young woman named Esther Howland, known as the “Mom of the Valentine.”

The initial demand for her valentines was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her pals to assist her assemble the valentines, seating them around a protracted desk on the third floor of her home. The corporate was eventually earning $100,000 — a phenomenal success.

Esther is considered significant as a result of, in keeping with historians, she was among the primary commercially successful girls overseeing a feminine-run enterprise, and she principally created the assembly-line system, paying the local women “liberally”.

She launched layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion effects, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside, one thing you needed to hunt for. She had her employees mark the back of every valentine with a pink “H”.

Within the Victorian period, Valentines have been wildly in style and the flowery cards had been scrutinized for clues — even the place of the stamp on the envelope meant something. Typically the valentine was intended as a marriage proposal.

“The final week has been a merry one in Amherst, & notes have flown around like snowflakes. Ancient gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in change for smiles…”

In 1879 — after 30 years in business–Esther merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Collectively they formed the new England Valentine Co. (and their cards had been marked “N.E.V.Co.”)

This is where Esther Howland’s title of “Mother of the Valentine” begins to get a little bit shaky.
It appears, upon much study, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village near Worcester, started the industrial valentine business within the U.S. even earlier than Miss Howland did, however he did not like to speak about it as a result of the Taft household have been strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mom sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure — I live in North Grafton, about a stone’s throw from the place Taft labored.)

In 1836, Jotham Taft married Sarah E. Coe of Rhode Island and two years later they welcomed twin sons. But in 1840, one of the twins died all of a sudden, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham decided to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a shopping for trip for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he bought many valentines provides — laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.

When he returned, Taft began making valentines with his spouse’s help, and in 1844–three years before Esther Howland graduated from school–he opened a valentine “factory” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) However because of his mom’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal name on the valentines — solely “Wooden” (his middle title) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft skilled Elizabeth Howland as one among his workers before she opened her own factory

Taft and Howland merged into the new England Valentine Co. in 1879 and a yr later, Esther’s father became ailing and she left her business to care for him. After he died, she moved stone island x north face in with one among her brothers and she passed away in 1904.

Unfortunately, despite all the couples who presumably found their true love thanks to Esther’s creations, the “Mother of the Valentine” never married.

In 1881, George C. Whitney bought the combined business of Taft and Howland and it grew to become The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine production for many years. Instead of playing cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and finally added postcards in the 1890’s. The designs, that includes children who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” youngsters, had been wildly widespread, although more often exchanged by youngsters than grownup lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney manufacturing unit closed, because of wartime paper shortages

(The valentines above, from my assortment, are German and English-made — sadly not by Howland or Taft.)

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Valentines Within the U.S. — It all Started Right here

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Ben Franklin
In 1778, trying to lift cash for our revolt, Ben pranced round Paris in frontier drag–full-on Daniel Boone, coonskin cap and all–showing the French what they expected to see: the self-invented American. This mummery drove John Adams to his therapy couch (aka, his letters to Abigail) where he fumed about disgraceful “public males” ( whores). Ultimately, a completely enraged Adams fled Paris, while Franklin carried on, eventually securing the cash and alliance that gained the war.

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