Home-made Valentine’s Day Cards (1888)


WHEN February’s saint, “Dan cupid: Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,” takes possession of the hearts of youths and maidens, yes, and of the hearts of the little folks too, the demand for valentines is sometimes greater than the supply of pocket money.

But such pretty ones may be made at home by the clever fingers of mother or an older sister, that there need be no dearth of the tender missives. Square, or panel-shaped cards may be decorated with water colors; little books may be made, and with a suitable selection of sentiments are dainty and pretty gifts.

Take, for instance, a cardboard of delicate gray tint, and of a pebbled surface; cut from it the covers of the books which should be nine inches long by four wide, fold in the center, making a book four and one-half by four inches. The leaves may be cut from architects’ paper, and on them painted any sentiment that pleases.

If the old-time rhyme,

“Forget me not! I only ask

This simple boon of thee;

And let it be an easy task

Sometimes to think of me;”

is selected, one line may be lettered on each leaf, and at intervals, single forget-me-nots, or two or three flowers and buds scattered over the page. The cover may be lettered in blue and gold and the leaves tied in with pale blue ribbon. Panel cards jvith a bunch of forget-me-nots painted on them, and the same verses, are pretty valentines.

A valentine which the little folks like wonderfully well may be made of two hearts cut from cardboard and gilded around the edge and fitted with leaves, which are tied in with gay ribbons in such a manner that the hearts may be suspended. The outside heart may have on it a silhouette painting of two kneeling cupids holding aloft a heart, and applying a torch, and the words, “To my Valentine,” and on the leaf “To one I love sincerely,” or, “Thy heart’s best wish, wish I Thee.”

Ragged edged cards with Mrs. T. W. Dewing’s pretty valentine sentiment,


“If you thought I brought good luck,

Like some stray four-leaved clover;

For then perhaps you’d stoop to pluck

Your poor aspiring lover,”

painted on them, accompanied by a decoration of clover blossoms with four-leaved foliage are dainty and appropriate. And to give variety, a different arrangement of clover and another verse of Mrs. Dewing’s may be applied:

“‘Tis better luck to find each day

A true and constant lover,

Than just by hazard on your way

A fragile, four-leaved clover.”

The same design and sentiment may be made into a pretty little book by selecting a smooth French gray paper for the cover, and painting an oblique band across it, with clover heads peeping over; paint the verse on four leaves, one line in fancy lettering on each leaf, and tie in the leaves with a crimson silk cord and tassel, which may be made at home or purchased.

Comic valentines are rarely in good taste, and are almost always sent from a spirit of mischief; yet out of a number of valentines placed on sale in an art store, it was noticeable that the humorous ones were always sold, and the demand was greater than the supply.

Among others were panels onwhich were painted in aesthetic colors an extremely tall, angular female with this legend:

“Man wants but little here below,

Nor wants that little long.”

There were several adaptations from various publications; Harper’s Bazar frequently has cuts on the last page which may be copied in sepia or raw umber, and have mottoes applied.

An especially popular sepia sketch was two owls, one with a dignified, indifferent expression, the other languishing and pleading, and supposed to be saying the words lettered beneath the sketch:

“You have been gone from home three evenings;

Has your love cooled so soon?”

There is most appropriately, a waning moon in the background, and from the numbers of this card sold one would suppose the world made up of indifferent husbands and fatuous wives.

Another very taking card was decorated with two bitterns with their heads well drawn down between their shoulders, and leaning towards each other in a lover-like manner, and over them a moon with a benignant, smiling profile, and underneath this sentiment: “If you will be my Valentine The honeymoon shall always shine.”

A sepia sketch of a singing book and above it the heads of two geese with widely opened bills was dedicated “To my musical friends.”

Another, of two cats on a roof, one with a violin, the other with crossed paws, and rapt expression, intently listening to the music was made more pointed by the quotation: “Music hath charms.”

One of the daintiest of valentines may be made of cream white satin ribbon five inches wide and eleven inches long; fringe the ends, then neatly sew to it, (and sprinkle violet powder between) another piece of the same ribbon which has been decorated with some delicate spray of flowers, a trail of arbutus, for example, or with scattered clusters of wind-flowers, or rosebuds, and with those exquisite lines of Henick’s:

“I dare not ask a kisse,

I dare not beg a smile;

Lest having that or this,

I might grow proud the while.

No, no, the utmost share

Of my desire shall be

Onely to kisse that aire

That lately kissed thee.”

A very charming illustrated valentine may be made in book shape by taking a piece of heavy drawing paper, Whatman’s rough surface is best, nine inches long by six wide and folding to make a book four and one-half inches wide by six long, and fitting with leaves of architect’s paper or of bristol board.

Letter the cover in unique fashion. If “A Valentine to my Lady,” are the words chosen, put an ornamental capital A in blue on a silver disc, and tie in the leaves with a silver cord and tassel. A pretty verse for illustration is:

“The sea hath its pearls,

The heaven hath its stars;

But my heart, my heart

My heart hath its love.”

A tiny marine view may head the first page, and a moonlight scene the second, while the decoration of the next two may consist of ornamental lettering.

These few suggestions may bring fresh ideas in their train, and with a fair knowledge of the use of water colors, and a certain amount of taste and perception in the adaptation of designs and mottoes, valentines may be made that will not only please the younger members of the family, but which will find ready sale,

—Ada Marie Peck.

Source: Good housekeeping, 1888

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