The Sailor’s Valentine is Romantic Shell Art

I recentlyEnglish: Antique sailor's valentine, ca. 1870 ... wrote an article about Sailors’ Valentines and learned a lot about this shell art that is making a resurgence in popularity with collectors.

The Sailors’ Valentine was popular in the mid- 1800’s when after long sea journeys, men would come home with gift boxes filled with intricate seashell designs. Sometimes they would have a photo in the center and often a romantic message would be included using small shells to spell it out.

I find this use of shells in art to be quite beautiful and interesting. In fact, if I lived near the beach and could freely collect interesting seashells, I might try my hand at making one.

Making the intricate antique Valentines took great expertise it seems, but I could make a simpler version. The items needed would be an octagonal shadow box, paper (to create the design), shells of various sizes and colors, and glue. Draw out the pattern and glue on the shells!  I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Some places even offer kits for sale.

Skilled craftspeople can create beautiful Sailors’ Valentines today that will cost quite a bit of money – usually thousands of dollars – depending on the size and design.  They would be a very special gift for a special occasion.  Old, original valentines are also up for sale at various places if you’d like to own a piece of seashell history.

If you are interested in buying, creating or just viewing images of Sailors’ Valentines please my Shell Art page.

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