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Exchanging Valentines Cards

Exchanging Valentines Cards

 Valentine greetings took the form of gifts, poetry reading, and song long before there were written valentines. Charles, Duke of Orleans is thought to have authored the first valentine’s card in 1415. 


The Duke was a prisoner in the Tower of London at the time and wrote romantic verses to send to his wife in France. The exchange of paper valentine greetings started in Europe in the 1500s. The tradition was brought to America and grew in the early 1700s with the import of “valentine writers” from England.  The writers were little booklets with sample romantic verses and messages that people could copy onto pretty paper.  “Be My Valentine” was one of the messages in the booklets.

While Charles, Duke of Orleans  is considered the “Father of Valentines”,  Esther A. Howland is known as the “Mother of Valentines.” She began mass producing valentines in American in the 1840s. Her valentines were elaborate designs created with real lace, ribbons, and colorful pictures.


Estimates vary, but most agree that today there over  one billion valentines exchanges each year.  Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-selling holiday (Christmas is the largest).  Teachers receive the greatest number of valentines. Children are next in line, then mothers, wives, and sweethearts.



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