Be My Valentine ~ A Massachusetts Woman’s Business

MassMoments tells us this morning that in 1849 – the first American-made Valentine cards were created and sold in Worcester, Massachusetts by Mt. Holyoke graduate Esther Howland. Modeled on the English-style Valentine, her fancy designs, embossed, cut and colored paper along with romantic sentiments and hidden messages soon grew into a thriving business. Miss Howland hired women as assemblers, advertised her product and finally moved beyond a home-based business into a downtown location. Because of Esther Howland and her entreprenurial skill –  Worcester was the “Valentine Capital of America” well into the 20th century.

On This Day...

      …in 1849, the first American-made valentines were sold in Worcester. They were designed and made by Esther Howland, the daughter of a local stationer. After graduating from Mt. Holyoke College, she returned to Worcester and began making valentines modeled on a fancy one she had received from an English friend. Her brother took the samples on a sales trip and came home with an astonishing $5,000 worth of orders. Howland began by hiring her friends to assemble the valentines; within a few years, she built her business into a $100,000 a year enterprise, a notable success for any entrepreneur but a truly remarkable accomplishment for a nineteenth-century woman.

Read the full MassMoments article here. And even more here:

 Esther Howland ~ Mother of the American Valentine 

For those who like statistics – it is estimated that 180 million valentine  cards are exchanged annually and that 85% of valentine cards are bought by women. While 73% of all flowers bought for St. Valentine’s Day are bought by men! Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

One Response to Be My Valentine ~ A Massachusetts Woman’s Business

  1. Daniel Patrick Murphy says:

    The Busman From Lowell

    (For my father, George B. Murphy Jr.)

    I think of you all the time.
    The wind in my veins howls,
    Icy fingers curl on the slippery helm.
    Nightfall lies softly, gently, on the bones
    Of memory as the wind wails.
    And yet, I know your silence is calling
    As this cruel storm swirls.
    Let me tell you that I love you.

    I think of you all the time.
    You slow the Eastern Mass bus
    And yell ‘All-aboard’ to me.
    Though the bus is overflowing,
    It halts at the corner of Lyons St.
    With your magical voice you say,
    ‘Open sesame’, and the doors part.
    Let me tell you that I love you.

    I think of you all the time.
    Dazzled passengers lift their eyes
    To watch the seven years old boy take
    Your hand and place it tightly
    On his forehead and say, ‘Daddy, Daddy.’
    Your laughter lifts our spirits:
    The bus soars toward Kearney Square.
    Let me tell you that I love you.

    I think of you all the time.
    The road intensifies with tales.
    The windswept heart of your son
    Strengthens as gentle hands
    Touch the steering wheel.
    Winter’s storm radiates warmth.
    I sway with your marvelous bus.
    Let me tell you that I love you.

    On this wintry night
    Your smile illuminates
    The sudden darkness.
    As we depart Lyons Street
    And glide toward uptown
    On Back Central Street,
    Let me tell you that I love you.
    I think of you all the time.

    –Daniel Patrick Murphy