Love and valentines, Civil War-style

February 10, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - What does a valentine from 1864 look like and what would someone living during the Civil War say to his sweetheart on Valentine's Day?

Those questions can be explored during a one-day showing of antique valentines at the Belle Boyd House in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The Berkeley County Historical Society has a collection of valentines reaching from the years before the Civil War through 1935. Many of the valentines are part of a collection owned by David W. Thomas, a lifelong collector.

The valentines are found in postcard form and in elaborate cards with lace cutouts, forget-me-not flowers and honeycomb designs, says Don Wood, president of the historical society. The cards give people a glimpse of society from decades and centuries past and a look at how people courted each other.


"It's really a fabulous valentine collection," Wood says. The historical society also has a collection of valentine candy boxes from the past 50 years. Some are as large as 2 feet wide, Wood says. Others are covered in velvet, ribbons, lace and artificial flowers. Wood's favorite box has a stuffed cat glued to the lid.

Ornate chocolate boxes seem to have been popular throughout the 20th century, Wood says. From growing up in the 1930s and '40s, he remembers seeing elaborate heart-shaped box displays at the candy stores in Martinsburg.

The Saturday open house will include a piano concert by Radonna Mullenax - from 12:30 to 2 p.m. - featuring love songs from the 1920s into the 1940s. The Hedgesville Middle School Sweet Harmony Chorus will perform starting at 2 p.m. Chocolates from DeFluri's Fine Chocolate, punch and cookies will be available.

If you go ...

WHAT: Valentine's celebration

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11

WHERE: Belle Boyd House, 136 E. Race St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: Free

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Interstate 81 south. Take Exit 16E, merging onto W.Va. 9 heading east toward North Queen Street. Go about three miles and turn left onto East Race Street.

MORE: For more information, call the Berkeley County Historical Society at 1-304-267-4713.

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