Sailor's Valentines

Sailor's Valentines

Sailor Valentines are a type of antique souvenir, or sentimental gift originally brought home from a sailor's voyage at sea for his loved one during the early 1800s. Sailor Valentines are octagonal, glass front, hinged wooden boxes ranging from 8" to 15" in size and display intricate symmetrical designs composed entirely of small sea shells of various colors. Traditional shell designs feature a center compass rose or heart design and often spell out a sentimental messages.

Although the name seems to suggest that the sailors themselves made these objects, a large number of Sailors' Valentines originated in the island of Barbados, which was an important seaport during this period. Historians believe that the women on Barbados made the Sailors' Valentines with local shells, or in some cases with shells which had been brought to Barbados from Indonesia, and then the finished products were sold to the sailors. [ [ Sailors' Valentines: John Fondas: Books ] ]

It has been concluded by John Fondas in his Book "Sailors' Valentines," that the primary source for Sailors' Valentines was The Old Curiosity Shop, located in Barbados, and a popular place in the 1800s for sailors to purchase souvenirs. John's research tells of a sailors' valentine reconstruction, where the reconstructing artist found bits of a Barbados newspaper inside.

Today, antique "Sailor's Valentines" are once again in demand for their beauty and unusual qualities. Interest has sparked a resurgence in this art form [ [ Sailors' Valentines: Their Journey Through Time: Constance Marshall Miller, Mary S. Page, Ann T. Schutt, Grace L. Madeira: Books ] ] . Many Sailors' Valentines, both new and old, can be found on the Island of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

The Baileys-Matthew Shell Museum [] has an extensive online exhibit of this art form.

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External links

* Fondas, John. "Sailors' Valentine", Rizzoli International Publications, January 5, 2002 []
* Constance Marshall Miller (Author), Mary S. Page (Author), Ann T. Schutt (Author), Grace L. Madeira (Editor). "Sailors' Valentines: Their Journey Through Time," Schiffer Publishing, June 30, 2006 []
* Baileys-Matthew Shell Museum []
* []
* []
* Mention of a book on Sailor's Valentines []

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