In the United States, the first mass-produced valentines were crafted in 1847 and made of embossed paper lace. They were designed, produced, and sold in Worcester, Massachusetts by a nineteen year old young lady.
Esther Howland worked in her father’s book and stationery store, but was inspired to begin her own business after receiving an English Valentine from one of her father’s business associates. (source)
I learned that tidbit of information when I wrote Quincy’s Woman, the first book of my Eclipse Heat series set in 1877, Texas. In the following scene, Lucy and Ambrose Quince have had a horrendous fight–about money. She uses her considerable wealth to fix a problem on HIS ranch and he has been royally pissed (and embarrassed he needed her help) ever since. Using Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to make up with Quincy, Lucy designs a card and delivers it.
Fresh from the post-Civil War salons and drawing rooms of Boston, Lucy McKenna considers herself a sophisticated young woman. But when she meets Texas rancher Ambrose Quince, she turns into a flustered girl. He’s too old, war roughened and unrefined and she has no idea how to deal with the sensual hunger he arouses within her.
Ambrose falls fast and hard for the innocent debutante visiting Eclipse, Texas. Persuading Lucy to accept his pursuit becomes a duel of wits and passion as he awakens her desire.
Lucy leaves Boston and childhood behind when she becomes Mrs. Ambrose Quince. Her lonely days on the Double-Q ranch are filled with work and frustration. But she spends each night in her husband’s arms learning carnal awareness one molten caress at a time.