The Story of Sailor’s Valentine evokes romance- majestic sailing ships and long sea voyages, adventures in the new world, and daydreams of loved ones across wide oceans. Idle hours aboard whaling ships in the 1800’s was thought to be the time and place for creating Sailor’s Valentines. However, the creation of Valentines was actually a cottage industry on the island of Barbados. Once a stopping point on the long sea voyages, sailors happily ordered and/or purchased a Valentine to bring home and present to a family member or loved one.
A true sailor’s valentine was said to include a flower design, a heart in any form, and a special verse or message. Many of these pieces had messages inscribed with small seashells such as “ Think of Me”, “Timeless Treasure” and “ Forever and Ever”. Some expressed a bit of sadness which represented the feelings of men whose jobs kept them away from home for long periods of time. Many left a space for the insertion of a picture, perhaps a wedding photo or a photo of a sailor and his sweetheart.