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January 8, 2017
The ‘Mother Of The American Valentine’ By no means Married
Worcester, MA, the as soon as-bustling industrial metropolis forty five minutes west of Boston the place I dwell, is enormously happy with its quite peculiar checklist of “well-known firsts”, together with barbed wire, shredded wheat, the monkey wrench, the birth control pill, the primary perfect sport in main league baseball, the primary liquid-fueled rocket and the ubiquitous yellow Smiley Face icon.
And yearly about this time, you hear about how Worcester produced the first business valentines in this nation because of a foresighted younger woman named Esther Howland, identified because the “Mother of the Valentine.”
Esther Howland (1828-1904) attended Mount Holyoke at the identical time as Emily Dickinson. She was the daughter of a successful Worcester stationer and, in 1847, she obtained a frilly English valentine that inspired her to ask her father to order materials from England so that she might assemble her personal. She then satisfied her brother, a salesman for the company, to indicate a number of of her valentines on his sales rounds.
The initial demand was overwhelming and Esther gathered a few of her associates to help her assemble the valentines, seating them round a protracted desk on the third ground of her dwelling. The company was eventually earning $a hundred,000–a phenomenal success.
Esther is considered vital as a result of, in line with historians, she was among the primary commercially successful women overseeing a feminine-run business, and she mainly created the assembly-line system, paying the native women “liberally”. She introduced layers of lace, three-dimensional accordion results, and insisted that the verses be hidden inside–something you had stone island overshirt olive to hunt for. She had her employees mark the again of each valentine with a purple “H”.
Within the Victorian era, Valentines had been wildly widespread, and the flowery cards have been scrutinized for clues–even the position of the stamp on the envelope meant something. Often the valentine was intended as a marriage proposal.
“The last week has been a merry one in Amherst; notes have flown round like snowflakes. Historical gentlemen & spinsters, forgetting time & multitude of years, have doffed their wrinkles – in change for smiles…”
In 1879–after 30 years in enterprise–Esther Howland merged with Edward Taft, the son of Jotham Taft, a North Grafton valentine maker. Collectively they formed the new England Valentine Co. (and their cards were marked “N.E.V.Co.”)
This is the place Esther Howland’s title of “Mom of the Valentine” begins to get just a little shaky.
It appears, upon much research, that Edward Taft’s father, Jotham Taft of North Grafton, a small village close to Worcester, began the business valentine business in the U.S. even before Miss Howland did, however he did not prefer to talk about it, as a result of the Taft family had been strict Quakers and Jotham Taft’s mother sternly disapproved of such frivolity as Valentines. (Full disclosure–I dwell in North Grafton, about a stone’s throw from where Taft labored.)
In 1836, Jotham Taft married Sarah E. Coe of Rhode Island and two years later, they welcomed twin sons. However in 1840, one of the twins died abruptly, leaving Mrs. Taft prostrate with grief. Jotham decided to take his spouse and surviving son to Europe with him on a buying journey for the stationer who employed him, and while in Germany, he bought many valentines provides–laces, lithographs, birds and cupids.
When he returned, Taft started making valentines with his spouse’s assist, and in 1844–three years before Esther Howland graduated from college–he opened a valentine “manufacturing facility” in North Grafton (then called New England Village.) But due to his mother’s disapproval, Taft never put his personal title on the valentines–only “Wood” (his center name) or “N.E.V.” for “New England Village”. Some believed that Taft trained Elizabeth Howland as one in all his workers before she opened her personal factory.
Taft and Howland merged into the new England Valentine Co. in 1879, and a yr later Esther’s father turned ailing and she left her enterprise to care for him. After he died, she moved in with one in all her brothers and she handed away in 1904.Sadly, regardless of all of the couples who presumably found their true love due to Esther’s creations, the “Mom of the Valentine” never married.
In 1881, George C. Whitney purchased the combined enterprise of Taft and Howland and it turned The Whitney Co, which dominated valentine manufacturing for many years. Instead of cards laboriously made by hand, Whitney turned to machine- printed valentines and ultimately added postcards within the 1890’s. The Whitney designs, that includes children who resembled the “Campbell Soup ” children, were wildly common, though more often exchanged by youngsters than adult lovers, and in 1942 the Whitney factory closed, on account of wartime paper shortages.
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