In an age of e-cards, it’s pleasant an even a bit exotic to reflect on a time when a valentine lacked irony, and carried only messages of endearment.

In an age of e-cards, it’s pleasant an even a bit exotic to reflect on a time when a valentine lacked irony, and carried only messages of endearment.


An exhibit at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington celebrates vintage valentines, with frills and lace, and disarming images of Cupid and trappings of mythology and poetry.


The approximately 200 valentines, dating from 1910 to 1920, are from a collection that belonged to Albert Kalman, who owned and managed Kimbal’s Camera and Card shop in downtown Boston for 35 years. His wife, Vivienne Kalman, donated the collection in 2006.


The collection is one of several valentine collections in the museum’s archives, said Catherine Swanson, museum archivist. “It just happens to be one slice of Americana,” Swanson said.


Swanson said, many of the valentines from the period have mythological and folkloric themes – and Cupid was especially popular.


“The cards are very intricate, and some of them have pull-down tabs and moveable parts, and honeycomb paper attached to the greeting card as they open out,” Swanson said. “They were very elaborate, and very different from today, when you send e-cards.”


The museum has exhibit vintage valentines from its collections each year around Valentine’s Day for the past three years.


“They are very appealing, and many people that come in are quite intrigued,” Swanson said.


One of her favorites depicts a young boy kneeling down to find a little girl inside a heart-shaped flower. “Put little children inside flowers, and fruits, and all sorts of things, seems to be a period style, and I think it is particularly charming.”


If you go


Vintage valentines exhibit


Where National Heritage Museum, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington


When Through Feb. 28


Hours Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon-4:30 p.m. 


Admission Free


For more information call 781-861-6559 or visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.


Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at GateHouse Media New England's Northwest Unit. E-mail her at msmith@cnc.com.