Back to Top

c. 1910s to 1930s

13 wonderfully weird vintage Valentine’s Day cards

From women's sufferage to The Great Depression, these cards aren't what you expect

camera
Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Mass-produced Valentine cards, described by Charles Dickens as “Cupid’s Manufactory,” had become the norm in England as long ago as the early 1800s. Some 60,000 were sent in 1835 alone, and by 1841 that number had grown to 400,00.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the valentine first appeared in the letterboxes of lovers in 1847. Esther Howard of Massachusetts, whose father ran a stationer’s shop in Worcester, began to import cards from England after receiving one from a friend of her father. 

Esther’s efforts were a success. Today, around 190 million Valentine cards are sent every year in the U.S. alone. Few, though, will be as downright confounding and—dare we say—unromantic as this selection of curious vintage Valentines from the early 1900s.

1930
A colorful vintage illustrated greeting card depicts a child playing a squeezebox and reads “Will my blues get you?”
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
1900
Suffrage-era, die-cut Valentine card, depicting a small girl wearing a “Mother Hubbard” hat and holding a box-sign with the text “Votes For Women, Vote For Me For A Valentine.”
Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images
1900
Suffrage-era, die-cut Valentine card, depicting a small schoolboy bringing his teacher a valentine marked “Yes,” illustrating his support for her right to vote. His bespectacled teacher, wearing a “Votes for Women” sash, sits at a table with a ballot box, and draws a heart from a sack at her feet. Elsewhere on the card, it reads “If you believe—That women should vote— Just let your heart—Your verdict denote.”
Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images
1900
Suffrage-era, die-cut Valentine card, depicting a small, red-haired girl, wearing a pink dress and large hat with a blue plume, holding a document marked “ballot, ” and standing in the margins of a red bordered heart, with text at the rectangular base reading “I’m a suffragette and I don’t care who knows it”.
Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Illustration for a die-cut Valentine’s Day card featuring young children in court.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Images
Illustration for a die-cut Valentine’s Day card featuring dressed male and female monkeys in love.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Image
Illustration for a die-cut Valentine’s Day card featuring nervous young boy holding fountain pen and bouquet.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Image
1932
Illustration for a die-cut 1932 Valentine’s Day card featuring parrot holding cracker.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Images
1935
Illustration for a die-cut 1935 Valentine’s Day card featuring a young boy and a Jack-in-a-box.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Images
1932
Illustration for a die-cut 1932 Valentine’s Day card featuring a young boy and girl looking at a dirigible.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Images
1930
Illustration for a die-cut 1930’s Valentine’s Day card featuring a young girl on a scale and a young boy.
Jim Heimann Collection / Getty Images
1930s
A Valentine Day’s card with a golfing theme.
Sarah Fabian-Baddiel/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Watch this

Common Joint Pain Therapy Could Be Harmful

see more from
More
>