History of the Sailor's Valentines

Sailor's Valentines were brought home from a sailor's voyage at sea for his loved one during the early 1800s. They consisted of octagonal wooden boxes with intricate shell designs on them. The idea that sailors were able to make these on their ships is unlikely. With rolling seas and cramped living quarters, it is difficult to imagine this fancy work could have been accomplished by the average sailor or whaleman, however, there is evidence of one created by the captain of a whaling ship.

Most "Sailor's Valentines" originated from the Barbados area, an important seaport during this period. Most historians believe the women on Barbados made the Valentines with local shells or shells brought to them from Indonesia, and sold them to the sailors. Today, antique and reproduced "Sailor's Valentines" are sought for their beauty and uniqueness.