Sailor’s Valentine

Have you heard the term Sailor’s Valentines and wondered who and what this was? Interesting enough, this is a term that modern-day collectors assigned to what they thought sailors created during their free time. After doing some investigating, it was discovered that the sailors really did not make them, but purchased them for loved ones stateside.

sailor framed

This beautiful and interesting form of folk art came into being during the late 19th and early 20th century.  Hundreds of tiny seashells were glued onto a cotton backing.  Each type of shell was then separated by a partition.   Designs were colorful and creative.  Many had a message, such as “Thinking of You”, “Forget Me Not” and “Home Again” written on the shells.

star shell

Through research and examination, they found that most of the shells came from the same West Indies Island, with similar designs and workmanship.  They also concluded the island of Barbados was often the last port for many whalers, English, and Dutch traders.  Barbados is located to the east of the West Indies Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. So perhaps those sailors did buy these for souvenirs to take home.  They also found that these early turn of the century examples stopped during the time when whaling stopped and steamships came into fashion.

think of me

In the late 1930’s, these folk art shells were rediscovered in attics and collectors begin to see them as beautiful works of art.  From very simple designs to large ornate pieces we still enjoy them from the past as a piece of the “sea”. When you picture a rough and strong sailor, the last thing you think they would purchase is something so delicate, but the men longed for their homes and loved ones and this was a way to show their women how much they missed them.

sailors3

Does collecting sound fun?  Check out over 20,000 vintage pieces from postcards to furniture on http://www.icollect247.com.  If you enjoyed this post, check out our Antique Back Roads magazine, full of articles written by collectors – http://www.AntiqueBackRoads.com.  We enjoy your comments and like us on facebook.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s