|A poor card choice for Rhett.|
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Whether single or attached, we hope your day is a wonderful one filled with the people you love. In the spirit of the holiday, we're bringing you a look at Valentine cards of the Gone with the Wind era. So we hope this post will answer that burning, age-old question that haunts every Gone with the Wind fan: what kind of Valentine card could Rhett Butler have sent Scarlett O'Hara?
The answer? Well, you'll be pleased to know that Rhett would have had any number of card selections at his disposal. So he could have selected a Valentine to precisely align with his current sentiments towards Scarlett, whether they be sentimental, bawdy, nostalgic, or combative. You see, by the 1850s Valentine cards were a booming business in the United States--more popular and plentiful than Christmas cards, in fact--and eager publishers printed cards for every possible market demographic.
There were frothy, sweet cards for young lovers to exchange. There were sedate cards embossed with benign messages like 'friendship' and 'constancy' to bestow on acquaintances or family members. And then there were cards that appealed to a more earthy clientele, cards featuring comic scenes, bizarre creatures, or vulgar puns. Through it all, though, one thing was certain: then, like today, Valentine cards were an important part of commemorating Valentine's Day.
This 1869 article from Godey's Lady's Book nicely captures of the phenomenon of the Valentine card during the period:
"The great event of this month among lovers is St. Valentine' s Day. It is a day of pleasant and innocent excitement in the way of sending Valentines through the post. The ring of the door-bell on that day causes a great flutter among the ladies of the household. All is laughter and gayety, and if anybody is disappointed, she should put the best face on the matter possible. Already the store windows are profusely decorated with masses of highly-colored pictures representing cupids, nymphs, nuptials, verses, beautiful damsels, hideous deformities, and, indeed, every species of creature which the fastidious mind of the artist has conceived. All tastes can be gratified. There must be, we imagine, a large sale for this kind of goods, as every year brings forth an increased quantity."
--excerpted from Godey's Lady's Book, February 1869
As we end our look at the Valentine cards of the Gone with the Wind era, we'd like to leave you with a slideshow of twenty beautiful Valentine cards circa 1850s-1870s--any of which could have very well been Rhett's choice for Scarlett (provided he didn't choose to go the mocking or vulgar route, of course). Happy Valentine's Day!
Still haven't had enough Victorian Valentines? Check out the galleries on The Scrap Album for a great selection of both sweet and not-so-sweet Valentines.