ANTIQUE VALENTINES SHOWCASED IN DEDHAM HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM EXHIBIT
The Dedham Historical Society & Museum is showcasing two antique hand made valentines and a silver snuff box engraved with a heart in its exhibit “Tiny Treasures from the DHS Collection.” According to Board President Andrea Gilmore, “Over the past two years our collections inventory project has identified and photographed many intriguing small items. We selected some of the most interesting for this exhibit and several of them are quite romantic.” The exhibit includes enlarged photographic images next to the small objects to highlight inscriptions, construction details, and fine workmanship that is difficult to see through glass exhibit cases.
The oldest valentine on exhibit is an 18th century 12-page booklet with hand drawn caricatures and original poems. The poems and drawings tell of the various stages of courtship including, a proposal, reply, rejoinder, affection, and happiness. Another valentine is also a pen & ink hand-written original poem decorated with fabric floral designs. The silver snuff box shows an engraved heart and arrows on the inside lid with the initials JB on each side of the heart. A paper label inside the box states “Snuff box of Jerusha Bililngs of Stoughton Presented by Mrs. Mirick P. Sumner of Dedham.” Jerusha Billings married Roger Sumner, the grandfather of Mirick P. Sumner.
The custom of sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts originated in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced and sold shortly after 1847 by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts. Her father operated a large book and stationery store and Howland took her inspiration from an English valentine she had received. Intrigued with the idea of making similar valentines, Howland began her business by importing paper lace and floral decorations from England.
The Dedham Historical Society & Museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 12noon – 4pm and even dated Saturdays from 1pm – 4pm. For more information call 781-326-1385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.