The History of Valentines Day Cards
The oldest Valentine note still in existence dates to the early 1400s. Following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent a love poem to his wife from his new quarters in the Tower of London. One has to assume that his wife was grateful to hear that he was not wiped out with the rest of the French army.
Another early surviving Valentine’s note was sent by Henry V, King of England to wife Catherine of Valois. The victor of Agincourt, though, had to commission poet John Lydgate to write it.
Until the 19th Century, Valentine’s Day cards were actually either love letters, or hand made affairs made with bits of lace and paper.Commercial greeting cards were first produced by Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts. The daughter of a book and stationary owner, Howland apparently was inspired by an English card that she saw.
Today, the Greeting Card Association awards an annual Esther Howland Award. The greeting card asociation says that one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making it second only to Christmas, when 2.6 billion cards are sent. Eighty five percent of all Valentines are purchased by women.