Yakima Valley Museum

ValentinesRonald Gibeau, Collector of Antique Valentines
Shortly after Ronald Gibeau’s grandmother died in 1970, his mother sorted through her effects and came across a box of valentines that had been stored in an old trunk. She gave one of the small fold-down valentines to Ron as a keepsake and told him that, nice as it was, she could remember seeing grander, more ornate ones, too expensive for her family to afford, when she was a girl growing up in the Yakima Valley.

Thus began the quest for vintage valentines which was to last for the rest of Ron’s life. His main sources were estate sales and antique stores, where he was careful to select only authentic cards, discarding those that might be reproductions. With postcards, this meant choosing only those which had actually been mailed—and especially those with hand-written love notes. As he collected, Ron learned about the various designers and makers of valentines and placed this information alongside the appropriate cards in the albums he maintained for them. His favorites were the elaborate fold-down or mechanical cards, which he called his "paper sculptures".

Ron loved to show off his collection to anyone who was interested, opening his home to individuals and community groups for the exhibits he created there. He and his valentines was also the subject of newspaper and magazine articles, and appeared on television talk shows and news segments.

Ron Gibeau died in 2000, and his entire collection of 552 valentines was then donated to the Yakima Valley Museum by his sister Yvonne Gibeau Butler. This was done so that his tradition of sharing the cards with the public would continue and also to ensure that the collection would remain intact and be properly cared for.

Designers Mechanical
Swag Mechanical
Valentines

Clubbed, Stoned, and Beheaded—the fate of the man for whom St. Valentine’s Day is named.
Emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century AD decreed that Roman soldiers should not marry because a home and family would only distract these men from their duties in fighting the Roman Empire’s wars. The Christian priest Valentinus defied the Emperor’s decree and continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret. Valentinus was imprisoned, and eventually Claudius ordered his execution. During his imprisonment, Valentinus made friends with the blind daughter of his jailer. On the eve of his execution, he wrote her a farewell note and signed it "From Your Valentine." The date was February 14, 270 AD.

But the story does not end there. The execution of Valentinus happened to occur at the same time as a popular Roman festival known as Lupercalia. This celebration of the rites of spring included much merrymaking, food, drink, and the practice of each young man picking a young woman’s name at random at the "Altar of Love." The man and woman then could be lovers until the next year’s festival.

Christian priests adapted Lupercalia to make it a Christian festival, substituting the names of saints for those of young women at the random drawing, making it religious rather than romantic. Slowly, during the next centuries, the rituals of February 14 evolved into the current traditions associated with romance and sentiment—a day for the celebration of love and lovers.

 

 

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