Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some History of the Heart Shape

Valentine Kissing Couple Hankie by PatinaVintage
Valentine's Day Heart Candy Box
by TheFunnyBunny
Crystal Filigree Heart Brooch
by VintageHeartBreaker 

Queen of Hearts Tiara
by SummerHolidayVintage
 People draw hearts, receive hearts, buy hearts, and wear hearts, but where did the heart shape come from? I was curious, so I decided to do a bit of research to find out. 
Though nobody knows for sure when and where the heart shape first originated, shapes resembling the heart have been found around the world throughout history. In North Africa during the 17th century B.C. the trade of a rare plant was a lucrative business. The plant Silphium was used as a form of birth control, and was such an important commodity to the area that coins were minted with the seedpod shape on them. The Silphium pod looks very much like the heart shape we know today.
Much later, in the 15th century, the heart shape was pictured on most playing card decks as one of the red suits. The printing press had just been introduced in 1480, and shortly after that, the cup that had once been used on playing cards, which represented the holy grail, had been change to a heart. Of course, the queen of hearts has been used on many items, Valentines related or not, and continues to be the most loved playing card of them all.
King & Queen of Hearts Game Pieces
By Paddy Ridge

The Winking Queen of Hearts
by Haverton


It wasn’t until the 17th century that Valentines gained popularity in England. Of course the hearts first represented on the Valentine’s card looked more like the human heart, mostly due to the Catholic influence on society, and the story of Saint Margaret Mary Alocoque, who claimed to have a vision of the heart surrounded by thorns. Today that symbol is known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But while the Sacred Heart may have popularized the shape, most scholars agree that it existed much earlier than the 1600s.
Precious antique Sacred Heart
by MademoiselleChipotte
French Sacred Heart of Jesus Folk Art
by BlueDogJewelry


During the 18th Century, sugar became popular in England and along with it came such delights as cakes, pastries and other sweet treats. Vienna and Paris took the pastry one step further and started adding cherries and strawberries. When the fruits are cut in half, they look like a heart.
The Queen of Hearts Strawberry Tarts
by GretelsOven
Cherry Pie Pops by CakewalkDesserts

It really wasn’t until the 19th century that the mass produced Valentine came to be. Even though handmade Valentines cards had been created for years, the iconography was not consistent. In 1840 a card had been produced with a picture of seated lovers and a Romanesque cupid with a sacred heart impaled on his arrow, hovering in the background.
Lacy Lovely Victorian Valentines by TheMagpieSociety


Around the same time, greeting card manufacturers were popping up in America, enough of them that it was considered a significant industrial sector. There to, the heart shape was being mass produced on Valentine’s cards. The mass produced card gave the heart shape its popularity. The trend continued into the 1920’s while valentines became less sentimental and more simple in design, unlike their Victorian counterparts.
Sweet Little Girl Boy Valentine Card
by EvelynnsAlcove 

Valentine Heart Brooch with Ruby Red Flowers
by PastEnchantments

Photo © 2012 Lots of Postcards
Vintage 1920 German Valentine
by LotsOfPostcards

1 comment:

  1. Tremendously fascinating - Great research!!
    enjoyed reading your post.


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