Valentines, Valentines Day

Valentines, Valentines Day

Cupid’s Capitalist: Meet Esther Howland, Creator Of The Modern Valentine

Esther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co.

15.2.2020

These 3 valentines created by Esther Howland are part of the Metropolitan Museum's collection. The lace-adorned cards originally cost from 15 cents to 35 cents

Esther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co.

. That young woman was Esther Howland, who, 52 years later, would be judged by a Boston Globe reporter as not only the “pioneer maker of valentines” but also as a “monopolist.” These three valentines created by Esther Howland are part of the Metropolitan Museum's collection. The lace-adorned cards originally cost from 15 cents to 35 cents. The Howlands had lived in Massachusetts since the Mayflower 66-day Atlantic Ocean crossin g in 1620. Esther’s father, Southworth, owned a large bookstore and stationery shop in Worcester, which was well regarded for its collection of hymn books and Sunday School texts. But the Howlands also stocked valentines, including a more richly designed and lace-covered selection from England. Those cards gave Esther an idea. Why not make similar-looking ones that aped the style of the British products? She would, in modern business parlance, go upmarket, selling cards for as much as 75 cents, an outrageous luxury at a time when the average American worker made less than a dollar a day (comparing costs before the Federal Reserve’s start in 1913 is tricky, but by comparison, the average worker currently makes around $125 a day; a similarly priced valentine today would work out to $100). In 1849, she created a few prototypes and cajoled her brother to hawk them in New York and Boston for her. In short order, she had orders worth a few thousand dollars. This prompted Esther to hire four women to help her, setting up headquarters in her family’s Worcester home and ordering a large supply of embossed English paper. The company that Esther would later formally incorporate as the New England Valentine Co. was born, and in the following year, orders doubled. Esther clearly understood something the shopkeepers creating inexpensive valentines either didn’t or figured wasn’t worth their time: branding. Each Howland valentine was stamped with a red capital letter “H,” and worked from the same palette: pastel oranges, greens and blues, full-color cupids and elaborate fronts to the cards made of lace, silk and satin. By 1864, the New England Valentine Co. had an agent selling its goods in Cincinnati, Ohio. Six years later, an outpost in Gold Hill, Nevada, was doing the same. There are various estimates of how well Esther was doing at the New England Valentine Co.’s height. In a late-in-life interview with Esther, the Boston Globe put her annual sales at between $50,000 and $75,000 a year, a massive sum at the time. According to the ’s 1901 story, Esther had “monopolized the business in the United States.” In retrospect, the Globe seems to have taken some authorial liberties with the truth. Esther did indeed have some competitors, including one in New York that was about half her size. And she directly inspired some copycats, including her former apprentice George C. Whitney , who started his own valentine manufacturing company. And it was Whitney who would buy out Esther in 1881—the price he paid for the New England Valentine Co. was never disclosed—after a fall on an icy Boston street had left Esther confined to a wheelchair for several years. The Sumner Street house in Worcester, Massachusetts, where Esther Howland began the New England Valentine Co. Each of the young women she employed in her third-floor workroom worked like an assembly line, each assigned a specific task. The few stories that have been told about Esther over the years like to end on a note of bitter irony. They go a little like this: That Esther may have successfully commercialized love but apparently never found love herself, dying in 1904 unmarried at her brother’s Quincy, Massachusetts, home. Newspapers across the country reported on her passing, labeling her, variously, as “the inventor of valentines” and as a “New England spinster.” With the hindsight of a century-plus, there is perhaps a kinder way to conclude Esther’s tale. For like the greatest kind of love, her legacy has endured. So-called Howland Valentines are today a sought-after collector’s item. A 1997 Christie’s auction sold six for between $94 to $489. And some of her work resides alongside some of the greatest artwork in the world at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The Met Read more: Forbes

Cupid’s Capitalist: Meet Esther Howland, Creator Of The Modern ValentineEsther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co.

Cupid’s Capitalist: Meet Esther Howland, Creator Of The Modern ValentineEsther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co. Ohhh Love in America wouldn’t be the same without Esther Howland. She ushered in what is now a $20 billion holiday, a day when 145 million cards trade hands. She has been judged as not only the “pioneer maker of valentines” but also as a “monopolist” she fucked us all

Cupid’s Capitalist: Meet Esther Howland, Creator Of The Modern ValentineEsther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co. Ohhh Love in America wouldn’t be the same without Esther Howland. She ushered in what is now a $20 billion holiday, a day when 145 million cards trade hands. She has been judged as not only the “pioneer maker of valentines” but also as a “monopolist” she fucked us all

Cupid’s Capitalist: Meet Esther Howland, Creator Of The Modern ValentineEsther Howland was a 20-year-old recent college graduate in Massachusetts when she started the business that became the New England Valentine Co.

Cupid’s helpers in Loveland, Colorado send 100,000 special valentines each yearEach year, some 100,000 Valentine’s Day cards come through the town of Loveland, Colorado, where volunteers hand-stamp them with a sweet message before sending them to their final destinations. Good story! Hope everyday is Valentine's day in every corner of USA! Hope beautiful American culture can continue by all American people! Hope we treat other people fair & square like we want others treat us fair & square! Happy Valentine's Day America!

Honor the Spirit of Valentine’s Day With a Drunk, Nude FeastCupid and chocolates have nothing on Lupercalia.



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