Sailors Valentine

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What is a sailor's valentine;a type of craft?

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A sailor's valentine is a type of antique souvenir, or sentimental gift, originally brought home from a sailor's voyage at sea for his loved one between 1830 and 1890.[1] Sailor 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.

The Sailor’s Valentine is such an interesting and beautiful art form. This mosaic handicraft, using colorful seashells as the medium, is believed to have originated in the early 1800s.

Symmetrically designed, and often including short, affectionate phrases (think Conversation Hearts), Sailors’ Valentines weren’t actually made by sailors. These hand decorated, octagonal boxes were actually souvenirs, brought back home to loved ones by sailors returning from the islands of the Caribbean Sea. According to The Baily-Matthews Shell Museum, “Contrary to myth, sailors’ valentines were not made by sailors in order to pass time at sea. They were usually assembled by female residents of Barbados and other Caribbean ports of call for New England whalers to purchase and bring back to their loved ones waiting at home. The craftswomen would often include romantic phrases such as “Forget-me-not” and “Remember me”. Recently this art form has undergone a revival amongst shell crafters.”

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Sailors Valentine

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Sailor's Valentines By Brandy Llewellyn Part 1

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