Antique Valentine display at Granby Library through February
February 1, 2009
From simple love songs to custom cards, candy hearts and chocolates, friends and lovers have surfaced to pay tribute to one another on Valentine’s Day since the Middle Ages.
Through the Granby Library’s most recent art display, the public is invited to view a wide variety of antique Valentines from 1910 to 1912 through the month of February. The exhibition is one of many brought together through the vast art collections of local “hobbyist” Sandra Geiser.
Along with more than 50 cards of all occasions, the Valentines were gathered in an album by her paternal grandparents.
“That was the big thing back then,” Geiser explained of the Valentines. Most of them are post cards in Victorian style. “For one or two cents to send … they could keep in touch.”
She said she couldn’t possibly place one as her particular favorite.
“They’re just little treasures themselves,” she said. “Good heavens, they are more than 100 years old.” She especially gets a kick out of the ones with “little comical verses.” Some of the terms, she pointed out, aren’t even used anymore.
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With a creative mom and grandmother, Geiser and her sister were exposed to a variety of art, especially needlework. From those early years growing up in rural Minnesota, Geiser’s passion for the arts grew. Later, she honed her skills and creative eye through several classes at both the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and various classes in Denver.
She has always enjoyed giving handmade gifts, appreciating the workmanship and time an artist spends in creating the pieces. The Tabernash resident has sought out creative gifts and collectibles through statewide craft fairs since the 1980s.
Her collections began to grow and Geiser opened a hand-made jewelry business in Houston. She retired and relocated in the Fraser Valley about six years ago, where she says she has more time to enjoy her love of the arts.
Other collections include her grandmother’s tatting and Bohemian lace, corn husk dolls her mom designed, and handmade Santas. Crafts that have also captured Geiser’s fascination include felted purses and bags, and decorated gloves and wine bottles she creates. She also works in pottery, sewing (dolls), knitting and scrapbooking.
The Valentine’s holiday, named after two Christian martyrs named Valentine, honors romantic and courtly love. Early tokens were delivered through prose or song, with written Valentines flourishing in the 1400s. As paper became more accessible, Valentines started to be assembled in factories in Europe. Made to take the place of gifts, many contained black and white pictures painted on by factory workers.
As the tradition of giving and receiving them grew, so did the materials to make them. Ribbons and lace, made of real fabric and paper, adorned the heartfelt sentiments.
The oldest written Valentine believed in existence is on display at the British Museum.
American printer and artist Esther Howland is thought to be among the first to publish and sell them in the United States. Traditional symbols included hearts, doves, Cupid, and words of adoration. Aside from Christmas, Americans are said to exchange more cards on Feb. 14 than any other day during the year.