Ronell Bradbeer Anderson ’59 celebrates Valentine’s Day all year

Ronell Bradbeer Anderson ’59 of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, likes valentines, particularly antique ones of bygone eras. She now has more than 500, which she organizes, photographs and displays on various websites, including Facebook and through the National Valentine Collectors Association.

“I’ve always liked valentines,” she says. “They were a big part of my life in grade school. There was a big valentines box in the classroom. Mother had me home-make all of my valentines, one for each child in the class, and put them in the box. Each child did that. It was an exciting day to see what the valentines looked like.”

Her interest in valentines evolved when her husband, the late Daniel Anderson ’59, gave her valentines each year. They were pretty and contemporary, but then one looked like an old-fashioned one and she liked it. Her husband started seeking out antique valentines for her, and then so did she.

She says she has found a lot of antique valentines in used bookstores. People would store their valentines between pages of books to keep them flat and protected. She says many bookstores “have a whole box of old valentines.”

There are many distinct categories of antique valentines. Her favorites include those from the early Civil War era which used pressed and hand-colored paper lace from England, with hand-applied flowers and sometimes a surprise. An attached little parcel can be opened for a surprise such as a picture of sweethearts in Victorian dress or soldier remembering his sweet wife at home.

She also likes honeycomb valentines, paper tissue designs that open up into very colorful and beautiful designs.

She says many people like antique valentines that depict automobiles, gramophones, scales and other things “that are of era that is past.”

Her specialty is the turn-of-the-century era of 1900 to 1905. “I have a thorough collection of that era,” she says. “They’re more colorful and use chromolithography,” a labor-intensive method of multi-color printmaking that is no longer widely used.

Anderson says she feels she has enough valentines and no longer adds to her collection, but she still shares their images and maintains a love for them.

“It’s the romance of it, the thought they brought happiness to whomever they were given to,” she says. “It’s a thing of love, and they remind me of my husband who has passed away. But the memories are still there. It was a loving, giving time.”

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