Be My Valentine

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. You won’t be surprised that there are a few vintage Valentines around our house from old family albums. I’ve curated a little collection for your amusement and maybe horror. Many of these cards would not work today.

When I went to elementary school you gave a card to everyone in the class (or maybe it was just the other gender – those days it didn’t make much difference). The cards were cheaply printed in albums and you cut them out with scissors.

The kitten with a bow tie is an example – neatly cut out on the front but the printing on the back doesn’t really line up.


You put your pile of cards in a box in the classroom and then they got distributed and you counted to make sure everyone gave you a card. Then you took them home and threw them out.

Much nicer is this mid-19th-century hand-coloured card. It appears to be from an anonymous gentleman.


I have difficulty interpreting the verse but think it is similar to the sentiment of buddy in Love Actually  who worships Keira Knightley from afar.

Sweet is the love

But sweeter, and purer,

And far better to me,

Is the dream of the heart

That’s inspired by thee.

The cupids on this 1907 seesaw are tossing your heart back and forth – love in the balance.

13-02-2012 09;51;31PM3

The sad child in this heart-rich landscape hands her own broken heart to the itinerant mender of broken hearts.


The consequences suggested in the verse inside sadly appear to have happened.

I’m not very old nor yet very big,

But there’s room in my heart for you,

And if you won’t live in its spacious depths

It surely will break right in two.

This card takes a more aggressive strategy. Read the verse and tell me how you interpret it.

14-02-2012 08;55;46AM

Let’s just say if the kid next door went missing, I might suggest that the bleeding heart bed be dug up. Nice to see a confident young woman who is clear about what she wants.

And in this beautiful heart-shaped card what is cupid the enabler up to.

13-01-2012 12;57;10PM

Here the sweet cupids have taken heart on fire to a new level.

13-02-2012 01;32;40PM

These last cards are not explicitly Valentines but they do continue the theme of heartbreak. And cats.

13-01-2012 12;01;00PM 13-01-2012 11;58;14AM

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.