Besides Christmas, for which holiday do people buy and send the most greeting cards? You guessed it, St. Valentine’s Day! We know some of the history of Valentine’s Day, but when did people start traditionally sending Valentine’s Day cards? Before the 1400s, people recognized St. Valentine’s Day only by orating their Valentine in song or speech. The only record that we have of the first handmade “card” written for Valentine’s Day is from the 1400s and is preserved in a British Museum.
These handmade Valentine’s were popular in Europe in lieu of gifts, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that Valentine’s Day cards started to be mass produced by factory workers. These cards were very elaborate and delicate at the same time, some proving to be very expensive, and all had to be hand delivered. Some were embossed in gold, others were 3-D, and a few even had movable parts!
The Valentine craze hit America around the 1800’s, and they became even more popular in 1840 when the world’s first postage stamp was introduced. This of course made it possible to send the cards rather than hand deliver, however hand delivering them may have proven to be more romantic! A woman by the name of Esther Howland was one of the first to create and sell Valentine’s in the US in the 1850s. Her cards and others were hand painted and decorated with frilly accessories, but by the end of the 19th century most cards were mass produced by machines.
Esther Howland probably never in her wildest imagination could have foreseen that her first cards would ultimately lead to e-cards; cards sent to loved ones via an invisible highway known as the internet. But the truth is that we have gotten here, and that St. Valentine’s Day is as important as ever, and that because e-cards are easy to send, they have become the wave of the greeting card present and future. Here at GotFreeCards.com, the Valentine e-cards are just as elaborate as their ancestors from the 1400s, but they are FREE! Happy Valentine’s Day!