The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain and in 1847. Esther Howland received an ornate English Valentine from a business associate of her father. She then began to create and market her own brand of Valentines Day greeting cards in the U.S. from her home in Worcester, Mass.
Esther Howland sold her business to care for her father in 1881 to George C. Whitney, also of Worcester. The George C. Whitney Co. became the largest valentine factory in the world at that time.
Esther Howland Valentine, circa 1850:
"Weddings now are all the go, Will you marry me or no"
Whitney Valentine, circa 1887
Seascape Valentine, date unknown
Comic Valentine, mid 19th century:
"R stands for rod which can give a smart crack,
and ought to be used for a day on your back."
Vinegar Valentine, Circa 1900
Childrens's Valentine, circa 1940-50