Brain Pickings

Vintage Valentine’s Day Postcards from the Early 1900s


“If she be not fair for me what care I how fair she be.”

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.

There is also the occasional playful delight:

And what’s love without some indignant bitterness?

Then there’s gangsta Valentine:

And, of course, some classic anti-Suffragette mild misogyny:

But my heart belongs to this “wireless telegram” circa 1903:

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