Beautiful and Bizarre Vintage Valentines From the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection

Though it can certainly feel like a hopelessly contemporary celebration of the commodification of human affection, Valentine’s Day has been a romantic holiday of sorts since the 1400s — and the associated exchange of paper cards dates back to the 19th century.The New York Public Library’s vast digital collections contain dozens of lovely (and, in some cases, quite strange) vintage cards, most of which come from the first quarter of the 20th century. Click through our gallery for a selection of highlights, featuring everything from dogs to harlequins to cherubs cavorting in the buff, and visit the NYPL’s website to see their full V-Day collection.

"To my Valentine."
“To my Valentine.”
Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL

"A message of true love."
Image via NYPL

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nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e3-61a8-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.w

Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL

Image via NYPL
Image via NYPL