The traditions and celebration of Valentine’s Day have been followed long throughout history, but exchanging those well-designed valentines might be a more recent addition to the celebration than you think.
The well-known tradition of sending (and receiving!) Valentine’s Day cards started popping up as early as the end of the 18th century. These cards were hand-made, inscribed with some sweet writing and drawn or painted illustrations like the one alongside.
With the introduction of printing processes, buyable postcards and valentines quickly emerged. The valentine to the left is one of the oldest surviving preprinted cards, dated at 1797 and held at the York Castle Museum, in the U.K. The colors were most likely added by hand. Like some cards we see today, laces were sewn through the corners to give the design a little extra dimension.
With the printing presses in full swing, the Valentine card industry was quick to be taken on by three brothers: Joyce, William, and Rollie Hall. The brothers founded the Hall Brothers Printing Company, known today as Hallmark. The card on the left, designed with colorful illustrations and lavish typography, was one of the first that the industry giant we know today designed. Head to any card store near you, and you’ll see a host of designs from modern to traditional inspired by the Valentine’s Day card traditions.
The aesthetics of the iconic Valentine’s Day love hearts with textures of lace, colors of red, and delicate design have influenced plenty of other industries. The Idaho® Potato Lovers promotion for the Idaho Potato Commission often draws on the Valentine’s design elements. See how those have evolved just over a few years!