Vintage Valentine’s Day Greetings

The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Ancient Rome, though the modern incarnation of the Holiday didn’t begin until the turn of the 19th century.This article in Town & Country Magazine illustrates a brief history of how Valentine’s Day has evolved and why the tradition of sending greeting cards has become a fixture of the season.

We love looking back at vintage Valentine’s Day cards from the 19th and 20th centuries to see changing trends. Many of the bold illustrations and puns of the past have given way to more subtle designs, though we can’t help but smile when we look at how people have expressed their love through the ages.

Please feel free to share some of your favorite Valentine’s Day cards that you have received over the years and tag us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Love: A History

At Dempsey & Carroll, Valentine’s Day is a particularly exciting holiday.  A recent article in People highlighted the history of this holiday, and how Valentine’s Day cards came to be, with the first cards dating back to the third century. We love sweet handwritten sentiments, but for us, what’s most interesting about Valentine’s Day is the chance to go through some of the books written and published by our founders, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll, in the late 1800s. We have compiled some of our favorite quotes about love in honor of the upcoming holiday.

“Love is the desire that good be forever present to us” – Socrates

This quote is emblazoned on the title page of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll’s 1883 publication “Love”, a collection of love letters and love sentiments from the ages.

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In an extract of a letter from General George Washington to Miss Nellie Custis, he advises in choosing a husband.

Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contented that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its progress; but let these be withdrawn, and it may be stifled in its growth.

We see that many of the sentiments expressed in the letters express the same passion that Washington described to Miss Custis.

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How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater.

– Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, 1528

 

It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find it out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me…

…Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I am ever yours.

– Sir Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock, 1708

 

Your letter gave me more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do; indeed, I am almost astonished that any absent one should have that luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I receive your influence and a tenderer nature stealing upon me.

– John Keats to Fanny Brawne, 1819

 

60 Years From Now

Will a friend, lover, colleague be able to look back upon your words with fondness and appreciation – feeling the worn texture of the paper, drinking in old sentiments now faded, catching a scent of years gone by? Today is a great day to write a letter.

We had to call out the recent clip in the December, 1 2014 issue of People Magazine.

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“I will come again to the kitchen, pretending you are not there and discover you again. And as you stand there cooking breakfast, I will kiss your neck… .”

A Love of Many Colors: Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Imagine a love fueled by both intense devotion and tumultuous passion. This was the reality for artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. During the span of their 27 year relationship, artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exchanged numerous letters that reflect the spectrum of their love, encompassing their joy, anguish, and desire.

In 1922, Frida Kahlo met painter Diego Rivera, whose work she admired deeply. After not being in contact for several years, the artists reconnected in 1928 and Rivera began to act as Kahlo’s artistic mentor. Their relationship eventually became intimate, yielding one of art history’s most fascinating romances. The artists inspired one another, Kahlo and Rivera urging one another to explore their passion deeper in their art. Diego is cited as stating, “I did not know it then, but Frida had already become the most important fact in my life. And would continue to be up to the moment she died, 27 years later.” (Source: http://www.diego-rivera.org/quotes.html) Despite their immense love for one another, Kahlo and Rivera had multiple affairs throughout their marriage. Yet, Kahlo and Rivera remained devoted to one another because of a resilient passion that withstood even their relationship’s darkest moments.

Transcribed translation:

Diego.
Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak, or sleep, or love.
To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood, outside time and magic, within your own fear, and your anguish, and within the very beating of your heart.
All this madness if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence, there would be only confusion.
I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you, you give me grace, your light and your warmth.
I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors [sic], because there are so many, in my confusion, the tangible form of my great love.

F.

Madeleine Garone,

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Revisiting Our 14 Days of Valentines: The Chosen Love Note

This year we at Dempsey & Carroll asked ourselves, “Why does Valentine’s Day have to be only one day?” With this question in mind, we launched the 14 Days of Valentines to promote and honor the love that surrounds us. Image

We extended the opportunity to everyone to share their love notes with us. After being inspired by such moving and personal notes, we selected our favorite, a love note from Michael Buffon to his wife. He graciously allowed us to share his note, which can be found below.

I still remember the first time I met you…hours went by in what seemed like minutes.  I knew that there was something special about you and I felt an instant connection. Twelve years went by and through chance we reconnected and my life was changed forever.

My wife, best friend, and lover, you’re more than I could have ever imagined.  I love you more each day and I am yours forever.  I am truly blessed and celebrate our love with you this Valentine’s Day. 

Notes like Michael’s show us love is a profound and powerful sentiment that we can feel and experience. We thank Michael, his wife, and all who shared their letters for making this a very special Valentine’s Day for us. Though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, we can make believe it’s Valentine’s Day every day with kind actions (those “just because I love you” kind), smiles, and of course, a thoughtful handwritten note.

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After the War Ends, Love is Still There: Winston and Clementine Churchill

In times of love and war, handwritten letters reigned. For Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine, their letters acted as portals into each other’s worlds while apart during their 56 year relationship. Twenty-five years before he was to become the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Churchill, who was deeply devoted to his country, joined the army to fight in World War I. As he ventured into the war zone, he wrote a letter addressed to his beloved Clementine on July 17, 1915, in an envelope marked with “To be sent to Mrs. Churchill in the event of my death.” Despite the worry that burdened Clementine’s heart while her husband was away at war, she ultimately never had to open the letter.

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Churchill’s letter to Clementine in case of his death. Dated July 17, 1915. (Image courtesy of: http://www.cam.ac.uk/about-the-university/history/800th-anniversary?800redirect=page/117/winston-churchill.htm)

Transcription:

Do not grieve for me too much. I am a spirit confident of my rights. Death is only an incident & not the most important which happens to us in this state of being. On the whole, especially since I met you my darling I have been happy, & you have taught me how noble a woman’s heart can be. If there is anywhere else I shall be on the look out for you. Meanwhile look forward, feel free, rejoice in life, cherish the children, guard my memory. God bless you.

Good bye.

W.

The couple’s correspondence acted as an avenue to the other’s hearts during an era in which the loss of life was staggering. It is because of their letters that the love between Winston and Clementine Churchill became immortal.

Winston and Clementine Churchill saluting the troops aboard the RMS “Queen Mary” in 1943. (Image courtesy of: http://www.stevenujifusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/7435172.jpg)

Winston and Clementine Churchill saluting the troops aboard the RMS “Queen Mary” in 1943. (Image courtesy of: http://www.stevenujifusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/7435172.jpg)

The Fourteen Days of Valentine’s Day: Ready, Set, Show Your Love!

The Fourteen Days of Valentine’s Day are here! At Dempsey & Carroll, we enjoy celebrating life’s major events, especially the ones that stem from love.

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While love is in the air, we are inviting you to share your love letters, emails, texts, and post-its with us. All submissions should be sent to info@dempseyandcarroll.com before February 2014. On February 17th, we will select one submission as our favorite. The winning submitter will receive an engraved 2014 Calendar and our Sweet Sentiments. calendar

To inaugurate the 14 days of Valentine’s Day, Dempsey & Carroll’s president Jennifer Pool shares her wedding vows.

Vows

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise riches, wealth, or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old.

But I can promise all my heart’s devotion;
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
A love that’s ever true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.

(inspired by This I Can Promise, author unknown)

 vows

Exchange of Rings

With every smile and touch of your hand you remind me to live in the moment
There are no second chances

We love each other every day squeezing everything we can
Out of the world around us

I’ve found myself in you
My best friend

Forever is a long time
But somehow shorter than it took to find you

I will always love you because
Somehow I always have

Thank you for loving me the way you do.

 

Love letters, notes, and vows are what we hold close to the heart. Our sentiments become immortal in these letters, a permanent reminder of what love is and how we can integrate it in our daily lives. Now that’s something worth celebrating!