If we want to determine the age of a tree all you need do is count the rings, but you would have to cut it down.
Owning a Sailor Valentine that is complete and intact, you would not want to open it for answers, but there are some answers in research.
Recently it was brought to my attention by The National Valentine Association < http://valentinecollectors.com/ > this book by Jane Toller published in 1969.
On page 13 in a letter written by Mary Delany, a well know European artist, sent her sister a letter in 1734 about collecting Snail shells on the shores of Dublin, which represents a minor over looked clue in the History of Sailors Valentines.
In 1833 Marcus Samuel owner of a Curiosity Shop decided to paste Sea Shells to empty Jewelry Boxes he and his sons were collecting on the shores of England and knew there were more colorful varieties of shells to be found in tropical climates. In 1878 his sons began importing shells which became over time the Shell Oil Company of today to make a long story short. The point or clue being, owning a Valentine with an abundance of species of Snail shells may very well have been created in a more northerly climate ( England or France) than a tropical one expressed in Mrs. Toller`s book on page 13 and could date the Valentine back as early as 1833.
Also Mrs. Toller talks about Valentine cases being created out of Spanish cedar which is a species of Mahogany and in every restoration I have had the pleasure of working on I can attest to that. But in the restoration pictured here the bottom of the case was created out of pine which does not grow in tropical climates as in the Caribbean. Importing tropical wood would increase the cost of the case and used northern pine instead. It represents a possible clue to the point of origin like England and France, at least in the early beginnings of the art form.
In restorations it is always exciting to find news print under the cotton but it does not necessarily represent when the art work was created. It may have been installed by the person who restored it.
Currently in my in slide shows presentations on the History of Sailors Valentine I explain the use of the paper edge and its composition which was used in many Valentines of the 1800`s, almost to a point of group manufacturing. So far I have been unable to date that style earlier than 1850 and believe they represents work emanating from France and England.
What I have stated in this blog is what I have found in my ongoing research and do hope you find it interesting and helpful.
If you have an interest in Shell History being made and shown, than this is where you need to be on March 5th 6th and 7th.
See my Shell Art Store on Etsy