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Valentines in the Victorian Years

Rapid changes in style and methods of manufacture came during the final decades of the nineteenth century. As valentines became increasingly extravagant in design, the beauty and simplicity of the earlier cards disappeared. The paper lace coarsened and brightly colored lithographs became increasingly popular, often featuring winsome depictions of children. Some were made with cardboard rests in back for tabletop display, others were made to hang on a wall. Such novelties as mechanical pull-outs made their appearance.


Many of these newer styles were imported from Germany, although there were some American publishers in the 1870s and 1880s, such as Louis Prang of Boston, who became well-known for their greeting cards. This satin-fringed card is one example of Prang's many creations.

By the turn of the century, valentine cards were mass-produced in many parts of the world. This card, manufactured by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd. of London, is an example of one of the most popular card styles of the time. The "delicately painted picture of a costumed child" style was first introduced by Kate Greenaway of London, and was soon imitated by others. Many manufacturers from England, Germany, and the United States, including Louis Prang, enjoyed great commercial success with these cards.


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Last updated January 25, 2001

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