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Victorian style Valentines offer an alternative to the prepackaged ones. Bad jokes not included.

It was 1847 when the first mass produced Valentine’s Day cards were made. The era quickly became the golden age of Valentines.

Esther Howland, now known as the mother of the American Valentine, commissioned her friends and family to form an assembly line in her kitchen and churn out hundreds of lacy, flower-y, embossed cards that she sold all over the country. Her creations ranged from small, inexpensive notes to be slipped under doors, to elaborate multi-layered creations that cost up to $50 (about as much as the cost of a horse and buggy, at the time).

This passionate romantic and astute business woman is credited with several innovations in Valentine card design: multiple layers, lift-up flaps, accordion springs, and heavily embossed flowers. She even wrote “The New England Valentine Company’s Verse Book” which consisted of 31 pages of options for romantic verses (which she always preferred to appear on the more private inside of the card). By far, Esther’s biggest imprint on the industry was her shadow box style. Esther was the first known card artist to use shadow boxes, the 3D motif that  made her valentines super awesome.

See how you can re-use an old greeting card or get crafty with card stock to make your own vintage style valentine shadow box card:

If you want a more private platform for your valentines message, like Esther did, this shadow box card option uses the same technique, but inside a reused greeting card.

Photo by heathersmiracledog via Flickr

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