Anybody ever seen these before?
Sailor's Valentines were originally made (or brought home) in the 1800s by sailors traveling long distances who wanted something beautiful to bring home for a loved one. Sailors would decorate octagonal boxes with local seashells, often including a sentimental message ("Forget-me-not" was understandably a popular theme). The island of Barbados, often a stopping point on long voyages, became a popular place to buy Sailor's Valentines for those who did not make their own.
The one in the picture above was made by my grandmother, with a sailing ship scrimshaw in the center.This one is my favorite. The center is a picture of my grandfather, which was actually printed in National Geographic magazine after he went on a sailing trip with them. The shells spell out "Love is Forever".
As a history teacher, I love when creativity and history intersect. I like knowing that I'm part of a continuum of people who make stuff - although my reasons for making things might be different, I like to think about why people made things and what significance the things they made held for them. I can only imagine what a cherished gift a valentine like this would have been, brought home by a loved one who had spent years away at sea. I think the history of these beautiful valentines is fascinating, and I definitely want to try and make one - perhaps as a valentine for my sweetie?
Has anyone out there ever made one before? I'd love to hear about your experience.