US Stamps

Valentine’s Day fancy envelopes from the good old days

Sep 14, 2023, 10 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

Valentine’s Day has been pretty bleak since my wife passed on in 2021, but while at the San Diego Stamp Show in late February, I found two reminders of how the day once was celebrated. They highlight a collecting specialty that is both small and beautiful: fancy valentine envelopes that were quite the thing in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The two examples are shown here.

The first, the envelope with gold decorations in Figure 1, is franked with the 2¢ Andrew Jackson (Scott 73) issued in 1863. The card has long gone, but both the front and back (not shown) of the envelope have intricate designs that stand out.

The envelope was canceled in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 18 of a year that can’t be determined. It is addressed to a young male, so perhaps it contained a late valentine or maybe a birthday greeting.

The cover in Figure 2 has a fancy embossed flower design on the front only. It was canceled on Feb. 4, 1903, in Hydeville, Vt., and franked with a 1¢ Franklin of the First Bureau Issue.

Both covers are attractive. They probably cost extra at the time and certainly reflect the love that the senders felt for the recipients. They also show the tenor of a time when life was slower and celebrations and traditions were not impeded by today’s need for speed, which often carries with it the elimination of frills.

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