In 1797, the Young Man's Valentine Writer was published in Britain which contained suggested sentimental verses for the young lover to send to his beloved if he could not compose his own. At first, handmade real lace and ribbon Valentines were hand delivered with such sentimental verse. But in the mid 1800's as postal efficeincy increased and then a reduction in postal rates allowed easy exchange of Valentine greetings, these Valentines changed to paper. This remained popular in Britain and then swept the United States as the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were produced after 1847. Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts (1828-1904) produced and sold many of these early valentines.
To the left and above is a Valentine card from the 1960s. The cute puppy has glittery flocked pants. Below is another Valentine from the 1960s which is mailed in its folded state and then opens to show its whole message.
Above is a very interesting valentine from Germany. It pictures a little Dutch boy. His pantaloons raise up over his face and deliver the valentine message in the heart shape.
From the 1940s onward, children gave each other valentines in school as part of the celebration. Do you remember covering and decorating a shoe box with a slit cut in the top so that classmates could distribute valentines to all the other children. Alternatively a large box was decorated by the entire class. All the valentines were put into that box and later distributed. These practices guaranteed that millions of valentines would be mass produced on inexpensive thin paper throughout the following decades. Fancier mailed cards were available during this time with fold out tissue paper honeycomb shapes that gave the valentines real three dimensions and were very decorative. The following valentines date from the 1950's. Some are very attractive. Some are humorous. There are several flocked valentines which came in sheets that needed to be cut apart and folded. Even the envelopes were cut apart and folded.