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.

Join the Discussion

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

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

More in Entertainment

Just In