Valentine and his saint’s day became synonymous with love. Although valentine greetings have been popular since the Middle Ages they weren't widely distributed in the United States until Esther Howland made her mark on the card industry. Esther, a student at Mt. Holyoke College, received a Valentine’s Day card created by an English company. Her father was a stationer and Esther got the idea to make her own cards and sell them in his store in Springfield, Massachusetts. She began to publish and sell valentines in 1850. The cards caught on.
Soon she was hiring her friends to help her keep up with the business. Even though the practice of sending pre-printed cards was mocked in a New York Times editorial in 1856, the business actually grew. In 1866 New Yorkers mailed more than 86,000 cards. And although most were priced low enough for anyone to send, they were also becoming more elaborate. Some were reported to sell for $500 each.
Today valentines are no less popular. More than 150 million cards are exchanged each year on February 14th. Some of those are still handmade, but the majority of them, 145 million in 2013, are purchased.
And there are still some very expensive cards created for those willing to spend the big bucks on their valentine. One of the most expensive cards you can buy is custom made by Gilded Age Greetings. For a price of $3,500 they will create a card that comes complete with 23-karat gold and precious stones. Their most expensive card comes at a whopping $5,000. Most will argue that it is the sentiment that counts the most when sending a Valentine greeting. Homemade cards with a lovely wish are most often the most memorable.
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Raffaele makes the best pizza in all of Napoli. It is so good that even Queen Margherita has requested a taste. Raffaele runs around town collecting the finest ingredients for the pizzas he’s planning for the queen, but when a sneaky cat eats the anchovies, he has to revise his plans. Inspired by the colors of the Italian flag, the pizza Raffaele creates is one that delights not only the queen but pizza lovers for generations to come. Accompanied by a generous assortment of rich and detailed acrylic paintings by Melisande Potter, the story ends with a pizza recipe meant to tempt the taste buds of pizza lovers everywhere.
We’re off next week for President’s week. We’ll be back on the 22nd when Dorothy Hinshaw Patent will write about feet that are not smelly but can smell. They're quite another story.