“Don’t Forget Your Soldier Lovers!” A Story Of Civil War Valentines.

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
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PA
Valentines Day. It's no secret it's become quite commercialized, lately. But is that a new thing? Apparently not. I ran across an interesting article recently:
https://www.journalofthecivilwarera...ldier-lovers-a-story-of-civil-war-valentines/

Some may be surprised to learn that St. Valentine’s Day, and all its commercialism, was alive and well during the bloodiest war of our nation’s past. Much like today, nineteenth-century advertisers and newspapers relentlessly warned their patrons that the holiday loomed. On February 11, 1864, the Holmes County Farmer newspaper in Ohio read, “We are reminded that Valentine Day is approaching. Tuesday next, the 14th inst., is set aside as the carnival of lovers. It is said the birds choose their mates on that day, and, it being leap year, it is expected all the marriageable girls will select their mates.”

During the war, companies ran a number of Valentine ads that targeted women with loved ones off at battle. “Don’t forget your soldier lovers. Keep their courage up with a rousing Valentine. All prices. Six cents to five dollars each,” advertised Strong’s Valentine Depot in 1862. In 1863, New York City’s American Valentine Company promoted “soldiers’ valentine packets,” “army valentine packets,” and “torch of love packets.” In Washington D.C., Shillington’s likewise advertised packets specifically for soldiers, which “contains two superb sentimental valentines and elegant embossed envelopes; also comic valentines and beautiful valentine cards in fancy envelopes.”

Imagine being a young lady at home, with war going on, your boyfriend is off getting shot at....and you're being bombarded with newspaper ads telling you to go spend $5 on him? That's not a small amount in 1860's money, and depending on who and where you are, may be an unthinkable amount to spend on such a "frivolous" item. And often right mixed in with news of movements of troops, casualty reports, and advertisements for disabled veteran's and widow's pensions...

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Such a weird mix of Holiday and business, isn't it? It seems commercialism in Valentine's Day was alive and well in the 19th Century just as today.
 

Lubliner

Captain
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Nov 27, 2018
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Chattanooga, Tennessee
I am wondering how much a sitting with a photographer would cost a young lady in the 1860's in New York or Washington? Competition would certainly reduce the price some, though with the likes of Brady and such fame I can hardly say for sure. I would not think it a frivolous gesture for that one reason (carte-de-visit), but for some simple card with a 'rote verse', nah.
Lubliner.
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
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Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
I am wondering how much a sitting with a photographer would cost a young lady in the 1860's in New York or Washington? Competition would certainly reduce the price some, though with the likes of Brady and such fame I can hardly say for sure. I would not think it a frivolous gesture for that one reason (carte-de-visit), but for some simple card with a 'rote verse', nah.
Lubliner.
Agreed. A picture is something he will keep and cherish for years. However a flimsy card that he'll most likely lose or throw out when it turns into a wet ball of pulp after the next rain... not worth more than a few cents, regardless of how simple or fancy it is.
 

Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
Valentines Day. It's no secret it's become quite commercialized, lately. But is that a new thing? Apparently not. I ran across an interesting article recently:
https://www.journalofthecivilwarera...ldier-lovers-a-story-of-civil-war-valentines/



Imagine being a young lady at home, with war going on, your boyfriend is off getting shot at....and you're being bombarded with newspaper ads telling you to go spend $5 on him? That's not a small amount in 1860's money, and depending on who and where you are, may be an unthinkable amount to spend on such a "frivolous" item. And often right mixed in with news of movements of troops, casualty reports, and advertisements for disabled veteran's and widow's pensions...



Such a weird mix of Holiday and business, isn't it? It seems commercialism in Valentine's Day was alive and well in the 19th Century just as today.
Indeed it does seem commercialism was flourishing in the 19th Century. I wonder how many people, then and now, know the real story behind Saint Valentine. He was a priest who defied a no marriage decree by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Father, now Saint Valentine continued to perform marriages. For this act of defiance, Claudius ordered Valentine's execution. He was beheaded on February 14th, 270.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Indeed it does seem commercialism was flourishing in the 19th Century. I wonder how many people, then and now, know the real story behind Saint Valentine. He was a priest who defied a no marriage decree by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Father, now Saint Valentine continued to perform marriages. For this act of defiance, Claudius ordered Valentine's execution. He was beheaded on February 14th, 270.
I never knew that. I see there is a strong movement even today along similar lines with 'no marriage' decrees. We never seem to learn, do we?? (People will die for their cause).
Lubliner.
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
Indeed it does seem commercialism was flourishing in the 19th Century. I wonder how many people, then and now, know the real story behind Saint Valentine. He was a priest who defied a no marriage decree by the Roman Emperor Claudius II. Father, now Saint Valentine continued to perform marriages. For this act of defiance, Claudius ordered Valentine's execution. He was beheaded on February 14th, 270.
Now that I didn't know! I knew it was named after a man named St. Valentine, but the rest I just learned today. Thank you.
 

Yankee Brooke

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Location
PA
I am wondering how much a sitting with a photographer would cost a young lady in the 1860's in New York or Washington? Competition would certainly reduce the price some, though with the likes of Brady and such fame I can hardly say for sure. I would not think it a frivolous gesture for that one reason (carte-de-visit), but for some simple card with a 'rote verse', nah.
Lubliner.
A little quick Googling produced this article: https://www.familytree.com/blog/cost-of-that-19th-century-photo/

It seems an ambrotype cost between 25 and 40 cents, or roughly $6 or less in today's money, during the 1850's. A Carte de Visite in 1864 between 25 and 50 cents, so roughly the same price. Though I am not certain if that includes the Confederacy in that last part. It would seem that was the better way to go for a valentine, IMO. Assuming you had the opportunity to sit for a photographer and the means to pay for it....
 
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