22 Strange Asian-Themed Valentine’s Day Cards From the Mid-20th Century

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Valentine’s Day traces its roots back to the ancient Roman fertility festival, Lupercalia, and to legends about St. Valentine, a 3rd century A.D. priest executed for continuing to wed couples despite a prohibition on marriage. In the centuries since then, lovers, friends, and sometimes even foes have exchanged valentine cards.

Valentines, like other vintage ephemera, often reflected attitudes of the day that may not be comfortable viewing today. The cards shown here reflect the cultural and racial prejudices of their day employed as comic fodder and light entertainment. Some cards may be more problematic than others. It is easy to forgot how pervasive this type of stereotypical imagery was in popular culture in the last century.
Items like these as mundane, everyday, fare are not that far in our past, nor entirely vanquished. As relics that tell the story of our past, warts and all, we present these images so we cannot forget how we got to the place we are now.

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