The Nancy and Henry Rosin Collection of Valentine, Friendship, and Devotional Ephemera contains 12,300 rare examples from the 17th to 20th century

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February 19, 2018 Sheryl Jaeger

Fold-open Valentine card. German, ca.1900. Maker unknown; three-layer construction of die-cut, embossed, and color lithographed paper with applied elements. 7¼" x 9" x 5" open. Gift of Belle and Robert Rosin. Nancy and Henry Rosin Collection of Valentine, Friendship, and Devotional Ephemera. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Below is the official press release from the Huntington Library on the acquisition of this fine collection.

SAN MARINO, Calif.- A spectacular trove of thousands of valentines and related material—some dating as far back as the late 17th century—has been given to The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, the institution announced today. Considered the best private collection of its kind in the world, the Nancy and Henry Rosin Collection of Valentine, Friendship, and Devotional Ephemera contains approximately 12,300 greeting cards, sentimental notes, folk art drawings, and other tokens of affection that trace the evolution of romantic and religious keepsakes made in Europe and North America from 1684 to 1970. The Rosins had given the collection to their son, Bob, who together with his wife, Belle, donated it to The Huntington for safekeeping. "This collection was carefully created by my parents," he said. "I can't think of a better place for it to be, given its historical and educational value."

 

The Rosin Collection brims with well-preserved paper (and in some cases, vellum or mixed media) materials that range from lacy 18th-century devotional cards, hand-cut by French and German nuns, to elegant Biedermeier-era (1815-1848) greeting cards complete with hand-painted love scenes, gilded embossing, mother-of-pearl ornaments, and silk chiffon. The collection includes cameo-embossed lace paper valentines from England, elaborate three-dimensional and mechanical Victorian paper confections, as well as handmade works of American folk art demonstrating traditional paper-cut techniques (scherenschnitte) and colorful Germanic Fraktur illustrations. Some of the most historically significant items include heartrending Civil War soldiers' valentines with personal notes detailing the hardship of war and longing for home. The Rosin Collection also contains bitingly satiric "vinegar" valentines, dance cards, memory albums, and watch papers (sentimental notes inserted into pocket watches), among other items relating to the history of love and devotion. Continue reading

 


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