The 1840s: Esther Howland Pioneers Commercial Valentine Cards

Posted By Bill Payer on Feb 1, 2023 | 0 comments

If you’ve ever given or received a fancy Valentine’s Day card, you may have Esther Howland to thank. Known as the “Mother of the American Valentine Industry,” Howland is credited with turning Valentine’s Day cards in the United States into big business. Her elaborate cards are now highly prized among collectors.  

It was the 1840s, and Esther Howland was living in Massachusetts. Her father owned a bookstore and sold Valentine’s Day cards imported from England. Exchanging friendship cards on Valentine’s Day was a tradition that dated as far back as the 1700s. With her artistic talent, Howland wondered if she could design cards to rival European imports. Fresh out of college, she gave it a shot.

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