Valentine’s Day in the Age of Sail

A sailor's love letter in fancy penmanship

Did you know that much of what we know about modern Valentine’s Day began in the Age of Sail (1571-1862)? According to,

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes…  Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America.

Another interesting tradition begun in the Age of Sail: the Sailor’s Valentine. Wikipedia tells us this was “a form of shellcraft, a type of…sentimental gift made using large numbers of shells.”

A Sailor's Valentine craft made of shells, pink and white, a traditional Valentine's Day token of affection in the Age of Sail

Wikipedia also let us know that “the primary source for sailors’ valentines was the New Curiosity Shop, located in McGregor Street, Bridgetown, Barbados,” in a region Endeavor fans will know as the Caribbean.

Unfortunately I don’t have the talent or resources to create something so magnificent, but in the spirit of tomorrow’s celebration, I wanted to share with you the Exploits Spotlight. It provides great insight into one of the most significant and exciting revisions that were made as we embarked on this updated edition of Endeavor: Age of Sail. I hope you enjoy.

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