Valentine's Day Postcards From the Early 1900s

A few sour, but mostly sweet, expressions of love from a bygone era

banner three1.jpg

There are a million better ways to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a card—perhaps by revisiting the very first kiss in cinema, smiling over artist Eero Saarinen's endearing list of his wife's positive attributes, exploring a love story in geometric diagrams, getting goosebumps from Virginia Woolf's love letter to Vita Sackville-West, or even taking a sobering look at the psychology of love. But if cards must be your thing, they can at least come with the vintage charisma of the early 1900s, thanks to The New York Public Library's digital gallery.

The era's Valentine's greetings come with a rather limited visual vocabulary—little girls, little boys, cupids, flowers, hearts.

v1.jpeg
v2.jpeg
v3.jpeg
v4.jpeg
v5.jpeg
v6.jpeg
v7.jpeg

There is also the occasional playful delight:

v8.jpeg
v9.jpeg

And what's love without some indignant bitterness?

v10.jpeg

Then there's gangsta Valentine:

v11.jpeg
v12.jpeg

And, of course, some classic anti-Suffragette mild misogyny:

v13.jpeg

But my heart belongs to this "wireless telegram" circa 1903:

v14.jpeg


brainpickingslogo.jpg

This post appears courtesy of Brain Pickings, an Atlantic partner site.

Image credits: The New York Public Library

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

Just In