My dear reader, it is my hope for you on this Valentine's holiday that you have in one hand your beverage of choice, and in the other, easy access to tasty treats, regardless of your relationship status.
In this broadsheet edition, we explore the history and tradition of Valentine's Day cards. One might assume these cards grew in popularity due to the general romanticism of the Victorians, but the real reason was far more mundane and horribly practical.
In 1840s England, a gentleman named Roland Hill devised a new shipping method such that postage fees became standard. Rather than counting pages or calculating distance to determine the cost to mail a love note, the post standardized by weight, thus saving the sender money, while also increasing profit for the post office.
The increased ease of sending mail also improved the stationary business, as individuals made their own cards. One can imagine a gaggle of young women pouncing upon the stationer's shop for lace, ribbon, bows, bits of mirror, sea shells, silk flowers, and pre-printed cut outs.
Valentine's cards found popularity in the United States after the mid-1860s. With the civil war over and cross-Atlantic travel made easier by steamship, the rising industrial class admired and strove for the English gentility evidenced by the sentimental missives. However, not everyone approved; some newspapers wrote scathing reviews of the cloying and novice poetry found in the mail. Who on earth could imagine falling in love to such folderol!