Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Life's greatest happiness is

to be convinced we are loved." ~Victor Hugo

It is Valentine's Week...I think it should be a week of celebration...not just a day.  It might put everyone in a better mood...especially those of us dealing with winter...not Florida style winter either.

One billion cards are sent worldwide (Christmas still ranks first), and it is a day celebrated not just in Hallmarks USA style. 

Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine's Day celebrations began around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology.

The "Mother of the Valentine" is Esther Howland from Worcester, Massachusetts. 
Howland started making and selling Valentine’s Day cards when she was just 20 years old.  After graduating from Mount Holyoke College, she had a profitable hunch in 1848. Before then, Americans hoping to woo their lovers either made their own valentines or bought elaborate cards imported from overseas.

Howland received a fancy, British card and brought it to her father, who owned the largest stationary company in Worcester. He was intrigued by his daughter’s idea.  She made up some samples with scraps of paper, and her brother took them out on sales' calls.  She had hoped for $200 worth of orders, and she received $5000 worth!
To fill the orders Howland hired a small army of women who cranked out valentines in an assembly line on the third floor of her Worcester home. Two years later Howland incorporated and the New England Valentine Co. was born.  The cards do have that logo on the back.

Romantic love was swept into America as the staid Puritan views began to lose ground.  According to some research, it appears her company made $25,000-$75,000 a year (close to 2 million in today's money).  For a woman to make that kind of cash when she could not even vote was amazing.  She held the company for 40 years before selling it in 1888 to her main competitor in Worcester, George C. Whitney. 

Ironically, the woman who immortalized romantic love never married!

I will leave you with a line from one of her cards...
"My love unchanging Still will be, Though friends depart and fortune flee."

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