Valentine's Day Postcards From the Early 1900s

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

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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.


There is also the occasional playful delight:


And what's love without some indignant bitterness?


Then there's gangsta Valentine:


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


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



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.

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