Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Sailor's Valentine

Happy February!
How are you doing this week?

Valentine's Day is just around the corner 
and if you have been around 
the blog for a while
you might know that
 Valentine's Day 
is my favorite holiday
(aside from Christmas).

You also know that I am a 
collector of things 
and I am here to tell you
that it's very hard to find interesting 
Valentine objects to collect ---
always looking, hardly finding.

I have boxes full of the old paper valentines
which are fantastic and far more
lovely than ANY cards we can 
buy today -- the graphics, cut-outs, pop-ups,  
 and embossed designs are unreal.
But there is not much you can do
with cards when you are   
decorating in February for the 14th.

Which brings me to
this wonderful
seashell clad heart-shaped box that I found
and purchased in Tarpon Springs, Florida 
because it reminded me 
of the antique sailor's valentines.

Are you familiar with 
sailor's valentines?

sailor's valentine is a form of shell craft, a type of mostly antique souvenir, or sentimental gift made using large numbers of small seashells. These were originally made between 1830 and 1890 and they were designed to be brought home from a sailor's voyage at sea and given to the sailor's loved one or loved ones. Sailor's  valentines are typically octagonal, glass fronted, hinged wooden boxes ranging from 8" to 15" in width, displaying intricate symmetrical designs composed entirely of small sea shells of various colors glued onto a backing. Patterns often feature a centerpiece such as a compass rose or a heart design, hence the name, and in some cases the small shells are used to spell out a sentimental message.
Although the name seems to suggest that the sailors themselves made these objects, a large number of them originated in the island of Barbados, which was an important seaport during this period. Historians believe that the women there made the valentines using local shells, or in some cases using shells imported from Indonesia, and then the finished products were sold to the sailors.  (Source Link)

Here are a few examples.
Who knows?
 You may just run across one of them
when you are out treasure hunting.

Sailor Valentines, Beautiful!
This one was sold on Ebay


A gorgeous modern hand crafted version found here

A collection of old shell art pieces -- from Pinterest.

Bill Jordan's sailor Valentines are exquisite.
If you would like to have a new one made for your special Valentine,
you can do so by visiting Bill Jordan's website here 

Do you collect shell art pieces
antique sailor's valentines?


Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I do have a collection of shell art pieces...one box was my husband's grandmother's...no true sailor's valentines, though. I actually have bought wood boxes and have a big store of shells to try making them, too. Love all of your beautiful inspiration photos!

Sarah said...

Oh, Alison, I'm right there beside you with the sentiments about Valentines. I adore this holiday, and like you, I like to find special things to honor it. Just today, my antique club meet and the topic was antique valentines. Our speaker had inherited her grandmother's collection, many saved from her own childhood in the late 1800s -early 1900s. I hope to share some of these special valentines on a post.
I don't have any of the sailor's valentines, but I do have one of the shell boxes. Beautiful work!
My own personal favorite things are unusual and special hearts that have come my way through the years -gifts from my husband, friends, students, and some that I've added on my own. Copper, silver, wood ~ they are all special to me.
Happy Valentine's Day!