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  • Writer's pictureKaren Seiger

In Search of Vintage Valentines

In Search of Vintage Valentines

There’s something so lovely and nostalgic about the vintage Valentine’s Day Cards.  They evoke a sense of nostalgia for when we were little kids giving Valentines to everyone in our class, or memories of the simple sentiment on a Valentine from a secret crush.

I went looking for vintage Valentines at the markets.  I had a lot of good luck on the second floor of the Antiques Garage.  Arby Rolband of Hobbit Rare Books and Prints has a beautifully preserved collection of several years greeting cards between a WWII soldier and his family.  It’s interesting to see how the War was incorporated into daily life at that time, including greeting cards.  My favorite is a rather saucy pop-up card from “Wifey” with an all-American pin-up girl on the front wearing boxing gloves, saying “OK Buddy, Y’wanna fight?”  On the inside, it says, “Or would you like to wrestle?  I’m a’waiting!”  A Hallmark insight into the post-war Baby Boom?

The cards are part of the entire collection that spans several years and many different holidays.  As a whole, this collection is a beautiful piece of history.

Right near Mr. Roland’s tables is Janet West’s “Oddball Americana.”  She has a box of sweet old Valentines from the 40’s and 50’s, I believe.  They are in excellent condition, and there are some very cute ones, like a bunny with floppy ears saying, “’Ears hoping you’ll be my Valentine.”  The price is right at $2 and $3 each.  You’ll want to spend time looking at all the wonderful things she has on her tables.

And just down the aisle at David Cohn’s shope is a very interesting stack of cards with illustrations by Margé, who created the cartoon character Little Lulu.  These Valentines are pleasantly risqué, especially considering the era.  So if you love a golfer, pick up the one with the lady golfer flashing her bloomers and saying, “This may be a little course, but I’d like to be your Valentine.”

Geno Sartori at the Greenflea on the Upper West Side has spectacular handmade Valentines.  For less than what you’d pay for a strip-mined Hallmark card, Mr. Sartori creates three-dimensional cards using vintage printed illustrations from Germany.  Bright tulips, red roses, and pink-cheeked angels pop to life on rich, heavy paper stock cards.  His cards sell out quickly, so get up first thing on Sunday morning and run to the Greenflea.  You can find Mr. Sartori inside the school cafeteria.

There’s another treasure trove of vintage Valentines at the Brooklyn Flea.  I wrote about the vintage buttons from Paula Hill’s shop “FDR to JFK” in a previous post about the Flea.  She also has a great selection of vintage Valentines.  They too are in excellent shape.  I found cute ones for my small nieces and, well, one that I kept for myself.  I love the fact that many of them have the signature of the original sender, which just shows that love is the gift that keeps on giving.

Oh dear – I’m waxing corny.  Better go have another pink frosted heart-shaped cookie.

Antiques Garage: 112 West 25th Street (between 6th & 7th Ave), open 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM every Saturday and Sunday.

Greenflea: Columbus Avenue between W. 76 & 77 Streets (Upper West Side), open 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM (Nov.-Mar.) and 10 AM to 6 PM (Apr.-Oct.)

Brooklyn Flea: One Hanson every Sat+Sun, 10:oo AM – 5:00 PM, through March 27+28.

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