Valentine Collecting Terms and Tips

Terms that refer to size:

When looking at 19th century and older valentines you may come across some terms to describe the size of the paper the design is printed and/or drawn on that are often used in the book collecting world.

  • Folio    -  12" (305 mm) wide x 15" (382 mm) tall
  • Octavo  - 6" (153 mm) wide x 9" (228 mm) tall
  • Quarto  - 9 1/2" (242 mm) wide x 12" (305 mm) tall

Terms that refer to the type of card:

There are several general card types. Different types enjoyed greater or lesser popularity in different eras, as tastes changed.

  • Dimensional or Pull Down - Cards that feature several layers, creating a multidimensional look. They fold up to be flat and are usually opened by pulling down a section of paper that then forms a base on which the card stands. These often feature sections of honeycomb paper or paper puffs and may occasionally have other features like see through tissue sections where light passes through the tissue paper or mechanical/moving details.
  • Flat    -  A card without any dimensional effects or folded sections (with the exception that some cards may have a small piece on the bottom of the card that can be folded back to form a stand; easel stands that attach to the back of the card may also be present). 
  • Folder or Single Fold - A card created on a single piece of paper or card stock that is folded over on itself. Before being folded, printing appears on both sides of the paper. After folding, printing appears on the exterior front and interior right sides. The back and left interior sides may or may not have printing.
  • French Fold - A card created on a single piece of paper or card stock that is folded over on itself twice. Printing is usually done on just one side of the paper, so before it is folded there is a printed side and a blank side. Folding creates an exterior front and back (both may have printing or just the front exterior may be printed) and an interior right and left (sometimes both sides have printing; sometimes printing appears only on the right interior side).
  • Postcards - Rectangular cards created to go through the mail system without the need of an envelope. In the USA, they must be 3 1/2" to 4 1/4" tall x 5" to 6" long and no more than 0.007" to 0.016" thick.
  • Real Photo Postcards or RPPCs - Postcards that feature actual photographs as their design image. These may be commercially made, generally for tourists or other mass consumption, or may be cards that were printed for specific individuals featuring their own photographic images.
  • Mechanical Cards - Flats and more rarely postcards may have moving sections utilizing metal brads or clever paper engineering to allow that movement. 

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