Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sailor's Valentine

Photo by Gavin Ashworth

This double cased Sailor’s Valentine was made in Barbados c.1830 for seafaring men as a gift to take home to their loved ones who were anxiously awaiting their arrival after long and sometimes perilous journeys. Note the message spelled out in shell art:  HOME AGAIN…and the hearts, the Valentines, are also fashioned with shells.  The double case is mahogany with glass fronts.   The case is fashioned so that when opened it can be placed free standing on a shelf.   I had yearned to be the owner of one such as this, never knowing that they were indeed quite “pricey.”

Sailor’s Valentines are highly collectible and demand a big price.   This one was purchased in England by one of my sons  from a collector of Americana.   It was given to me on my birthday as a gift from my husband.  Reproductions are being made, and make nice decorations.    However, it is so special to own an original Sailor’s Valentine.

 Our family lived near the ocean for many years and I wanted decorative items to reflect the beauty of the seashore   We collected many whelk and conch shells that washed up after a storm in the Atlantic and  made a pile of these shells by the front door of our cottage….and offered some to our visitors.   We also collected seaweed for our compost pile…..and pieces of old timber from sailing ships.   One large specimen from a shipwreck was given to the local Nautical Museum.   The mysteries the sea held were ours for a short time in the ownership of a large mast with brass rings..….the gift of King Neptune?????....or one of his mermaids?

 My Sailor’s Valentine must have been cherished by the original owner, as it is in excellent shape and does not appear to have been repaired in any way.

 The son who found this for me will be the happy owner some day!!!!!!

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