Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

In the popular imagination, sailors’ valentines (like scrimshaw) were made aboard ship by homesick seamen who occupied their dog watch leisure time fabricating intricate patterns with shells they had collected on exotic beaches. Although mariners did collect shells during their travels, most sailors’ valentines were made from fewer than twenty varieties of shells, usually all of which are found in the West Indies. Research on the styles and composition of sailors` valentines indicates that most of the pieces popularly called sailors’ valentines were, in fact, made in the West Indies—particularly Barbados—and purchased there by visitors, whether they were sailors or travelers for pleasure. Thus, most were neither sailor—made nor strictly St. Valentines Day gifts.

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