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Books Describe Different Forms Of Valentines


Sailors Valentine of Shells
This Sailors’ Valentine may possibly be from Barbados, although it might have been made in London. It is a little over 14 inches in diameter and was made about 1870.The wreath of shell flowers circle a center layered pink flower, with a wreath of limpet shells around the outside.

When the British, Dutch and American ships began trading in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean about 250 years ago, among the things they often brought home were the beautiful seashells to be found in the Pacific waters and the warm waters of the Caribbean. The shells were often sold in curiosity shops in London, and it wasn’t long before the ladies of Victorian England began using them in every imaginable form of orientation.

Many were made into octagonal-shaped plaques. These became especially popular and came to be known as Sailors’ Valentines.

An entrepreneur of the time, B.H. Belgrave (one of 25 children in his family!) immigrated to Barbados, which at that time was the center of supply and distribution for the English, Dutch and American ships who used it as their last port of call before returning to their respective mainlands.

Belgrave brought the shell craft from England to Barbados. Here the making of Sailors’ Valentines developed as a cottage industry, using the shells indigenous to that area. He distributed patterns for shells to be used on octagonal cases made of cedar. The plaques were not as ornate or elegant as the ones being made by the English ladies; however, they were a popular gift for the sailors heading home to take to their mothers, wives or sweethearts.

After Belgrave’s death, his Curiosity Shop was carried on by his brother, until it closed for good following the brother’s death. The Barbados Sailors’ Valentines can be dated, then, from 1823 when the shop opened to 1880.

By the 1930s, these shell mosaics began appearing from attics along the East Coast. Erroneously, they were given the name Sailors’ Valentines, along with the sentimental story that they had been made by lonely sailors at sea - and so they will continue to be called.

The book Sailors’ Valentines, Their Journey Through Time, (ISBN: 0-7643-2378-4) pictures 200 mosaic plaques made of shells. Many of them are new, beginning about 1960, as contemporary artists rediscovered this old craft.

The book, written by Grace L. Madeira, Constance M. Miller, Mary S. Page and Ann T. Schutt, is a 2006 Schiffer publication. It is priced at $45.


This is an example of a U.S. Air Force pin. It is more colorful than most, with red, white and blue in the three diagonal panels.

This is an example of a U.S. Air Force pin. It is more colorful than most, with red, white and blue in the three diagonal panels.

Also by Schiffer Publishing is Antique Sweetheart Jewelry by Nicholas D. Snider.

This book shows over 1,000 pieces of jewelry, made from military emblems, dog tags, in-service pins made into bracelets, earrings, lockets, necklaces, rings and brooches, and given as gifts to a loved one.

Thousands of unusual and decorative military sweetheart items were made, beginning in World War I, and continuing probably to the present day. Most include individual rank insignias within the different branches of service, identifiable by a particular emblem: crossed rifles, sabers, swords, soldiers, jeeps, tanks, parachutes, anchors, wings, hearts, shields, flags and stars.

The jewelry was made from glass, cloth, wood, Lucite, plastic, gold, silver, mother-of-pearl, aluminum, tin, and alloys.

Most items were manufactured, although a few examples of handmade pieces will show up in the marketplace from time to time.

In addition to the jewelry pictured in the book, examples are given of handkerchiefs, paper collectibles, pennants, banners, flags, pillow covers, playing cards, postcards and other military collectibles.

Antique Sweetheart Jewelry (ISBN: 0-88740-902-4) is priced at $29.95.

See the online Schiffer catalog at or contact the company at 4880 Lower Valley Rd., Atglen, PA 19310. Check with your local bookseller first.

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Indian Art Of The Northwest Coast
Is Book Feature


Giclee print by Andy Everson
This giclee print by Andy Everson measures 19.75” x 7”, and is titled “Brother.” A companion piece of the same size is “Sister.” The colors used are black, gray and blue.

The second book on the art of the Northwest Coast by Karen and Ralph Norris is Contemporary Art of the Northwest Coast, and covers the work being done by the Salish, Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Makah.

The chapters highlight new designs in canoes, paddles, weavings, baskets, hats and jewelry. The materials used are diverse - wood, concrete, metal, textiles and glass. Some pieces are huge public installations; others are small, for personal use.

The Nuu-chah-nulth are a grouping of 14 village nations that occupy the western edge of Vancouver Island. Their lands extend inland as far as Port Alberni at the end of Barkley Sound.

The Makah lands are at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Originally, these two groups were one, but over time, geographical boundaries and cultural differences have separated them.

Coastal Salish nations comprise a much larger area. Traditionally, they have occupied the eastern side of Vancouver Island, the western side of the British Columbia mainland, and extend south into Washington and include much of Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the peninsula bordered by the Olympics.

Much of the art, especially the large scale pieces, that is being produced now is commissioned by the tribal councils for use in the tribal buildings, as well as the huge casinos which they own.

Over 400 color photographs showcase the work of 50 contemporary artists in this beautiful book. It is a 2010 Schiffer publication. Contemporary Art on the Northwest Coast (ISBN: 978-0-7643-3641-6) is priced at $59.99 It is available from your local bookseller or see the Schiffer online catalog:

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Washington & Lincoln share a holiday


George Washington Postcard

Postcards are one of the more readily available items of memorabilia to add to a patriotic collection. This portrait of George Washington is trimmed with red, white and blue stars, along with bright red cherries. It is artist signed by Ellen Clapsaddle, and was published by International Art Publishing Co.

President’s Day, now recognized as the third Monday in February is a Federal holiday – that is, one that is recognized by the United States Government. Originally, it was intended as a recognition of George Washington only. As a Federal holiday, it can be traced back to 1885, and the date was set as February 22, Washington’s birthday.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, and Washington’s birthday was shifted to the third Monday of February. Specifically then, President’s Day honors George Washington.

Meanwhile, all those of us of a certain age remember that in school we also celebrated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12. It, however, was never selected to be a national holiday.

However, over the past 40 years, the President’s Day recognition among most people honors both Washington and Lincoln. Indeed, some tend to recognize it as a day honoring all past Presidents.

(Actually, in 1951, there was an attempt made to establish a President’s Day holiday that would recognize the Office of the President, rather than of any specific person. There was never enough interest to carry this bill forward.)

For collectors of patriotic memorabilia, anything dealing with either Washington or Lincoln suffices to recognize President’s Day. Examples are given in America’s Patriotic Holidays, by John Wesley Thomas and Sandra Lynn Thomas. (Schiffer Publishing, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-7643-4190-8, $29.99.) The book also includes biographical information on each of these two Presidents.

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