Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Handmade Valentines of The 1800s

      This article was published in the San Francisco Call on Sunday February 9th in 1896. I thought our readers might enjoy reading first hand just how young girls crafted old-fashioned valentines over a century ago!

 St. Valentine In Childhood's Realm
     We have made our children's page today a real "valentine page." A little early, you think? But, remember, by next Sunday Valentine's day will have joined the countless procession of all past happy days and will live only as a sweet memory.
      That it may be a sweet one - that there may be no regrets - I am going to give my boys and girls a wee bit of advice of how to spend the day.
      Remember, it should be the merriest, fullest of frolic festival of the year. Have as much pure fun as you can, but oh, please don't bring the flush of anger or shame to the cheek of any human being. Shun the company of those two wicked imps, "spite" and jealousy," who are so ready to take advantage of the "mystery" and "secrecy" attendant on St. Valentine's day to wound the feelings of others by reminding them of some mental or physical frailty.
      In other words, have nothing to do with those vulgar disgusting publications called comic valentines. (vinegar valentines)
      Make yours a day of fun, loving and giving, and at its close may your minds be filled with the peace which comes at twilight to the heart of him "whose deeds have been most kind, whose words have fallen like sunshine where they they went."
      Home-Made Valentines for Girls.
      Almost any useful thing which you take pleasure in sending mysteriously to relatives or friends can be made to take on the real valentine spirit by painting across it some original legend, humorous, sentimental, or pertinent, or by the artistic use of the conventional hearts and bow-knots, which are the very essence of 14th of February gifts. Let ingenuity be your master requisite, and neatness your most obedient servant.
      Probably one of the most practical gifts is the always acceptable picture frame. The simplest kind is made of two square envelopes (tinted ones are the prettiest), laid face to face, and punched with an awl a half-inch from the top and bottom of one side. Through the small holes thus made run  baby ribbon, and tie the two envelopes together in small bow knots. Now the frame stands firmly, and has two leaves witch are daintily held together. On the inside sketch lightly with a hard pencil the outlines of an oblong picture-opening.
      In the center of this opening (found by drawing diagonals from corner to corner) place a small dot, using this as your starting point for cutting.
      Cut with the scissors from this dot to each corner of the outlined opening.
      Turning the four triangles thus formed back from the lead-pencil lines, and you have a space for pictures which are kept in place by sealing the backs of the envelopes. (Figs. 1 and 2.)
      Other frames may be made of two heart shaped pieces of thin pasteboard (with picture-opening in one). covered wit linen or figured China silk, overhanded neatly together except at the top, where the picture is to be slipped in and finished with a double knot of ribbon, in which is tied a brass ring, which serves as a hanger for the frame.
      These frames may be made still more simply of two circular pieces of cardboard or celluloid, *pinked around the edges, with a tiny hole in each scallop.
      Through these holes run narrow ribbon of a contrasting color, and finish at the top like proceding frame with a bow-knot and small brass ring.
      The pinking may be roughly simulated by notching the edges and making with an awl the required holes at regular intervals. This photo-holder is particularly pretty made of sage-green celluloid, laced with a dark and light shade of green ribbon, with the lines traced above the heart shaped opening, as in Fig. 3.
      If you do not happen to be skilled in the use of pen or brush do not hesitate to cover your fancy work with China silk. Beautiful designs, violets strewn over light grounds or dashing sprays of delicate chrysanthemums, form a decoration in itself, often far surpassing the most ambitious of amateur work. One quarter of a yard of this silk, costing about 25 cents, will make two circular frames. 
     A pretty laundry tablet may be made in a similar way, having an oblong frame or cardboard painted or covered with silk, and placing in the center a tablet of white celluloid, on which in gold lettering are placed the names of articles usually sent to be washed leaving a space on the left side for the number. Finish this at the top by a bow of baby ribbon with two long ends, to one of which a small pencil is fastened, and to the other the sponge is tied.
      A tiny heart shaped needle-book, covered on the outside with kid from the long wristlets of some worn out glove, and inside with a scrap of pink silk. Three little button-holed leaves of white flannel within for needles, and all tied together with pink bow-knots of baby ribbon, as in figure 5, make a dainty valentine for grandmother's work-basket. (sewing basket) Paint across its face the words, "With heartfelt greetings."
      Sachet-cases, large and small, in simple and fantastic designs, are now so much used that one can never come amiss. A pretty one, tastefully made in the old bagshape of shaded *heliotrope ribbon, filled with a large quantity of heliotrope *sachet (for the fragrance vanishes with astonishing rapidity from a small allowance of powder), tied together with a splashing bow of dark heliotrape ribbon, with the following lines traced carelessly across it with gold paint or with ink, would certainly give pleasure to mother, sister or friend:
I send you, dear, a valentine,
The sweetest I could find,
Though it's not half so sweet as you,
Who are so good and kind.
      If you wish to pay a humorous compliment to a friend, from a heavy piece of cardboard cut an outline of the sole of a shoe, and from some bright-colored paper the outline of a small heart. The larger the sole the greater the implied compliment. Tie the two together with a ribbon bow and write in ink or gilt lettering:
I send my love, sweet Valentine,
With all my heart and sole.
      Upon a neat menu card put a sentimental rebus, as in Feg. 6.
      Here again, if you are lacking in sketching powers, you may substitute the real things(bows, matches, cents, etc.). Deftly tied or pasted on, they greatly enhance the unique appearance of the card.
      A dainty blotter for a friend's writing desk may be made by tying together, with rose-colored ribbon, two or three blotters and a piece of cardboard of the same dimensions. Ornament the edge of the cardboard with water-color gilt, and paint in one corner the harrowing design in figure 7. Write underneath the rhyme given on the design, or any other ridiculous one which may occur to you.
      A pretty little heart shaped sachet (Fig. 8) may be made of silk, and filled with violet or heliotrope powder. A silk or lace frill is added around the edge, and a bow of ribbon at the top, and this inscription painted or worked in outline stitch:
       A pen-wiper of kid with several leaves of *chamois-skin may also be cut in the shape of a heart tied together with a ribbon and ornamented with the appropriate verse found in figure 9.
      Adapting these hints to your own ingenuity and resources you will be able to manufacture valentines which will prove more desirable than any which you could afford to buy. You will have, besides, the fun of the making, the satisfaction of gratifying the wants of friends, and best of all, the dear old mystery of sending, which seems to make of this happy, nonsensical day a sort of second Christmas. --C. B. Jordan, in Youth's Companion.

*pinked refers to scalloped edged scissors formerly known as "pinking shears." These scissors were used by those who are sewing garments in order to prevent a lining inside of a coat or some other such garment from fraying.
*heliotrope is a flowering plant of vibrant purple.
*chamois-skin sometimes known as a shammy or also as wash-leather, is a type of porous leather that is favored for its gentle, non-abrasive composition and absorption properties. 
*sachet from the French sachet, meaning little bag is a small disposable bag or pouch, made from plastic, tin foil, or mylar, often used to contain single-use quantities of foods or consumer goods such as ketchup or shampoo. Sachet are commonly filled with odor pleasing scented petals used by ladies to line cabinets, closets, or drawers. These often prevent insects from "nesting" among clothing.

"25 kids are interviewed about love, dating and marriage, affection, babies, and things they love.
A Film By Lumineux for Small Fry Blog and

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