There's something so moving about sailor's valentines. Part of it's the meticulous effort it took to collect and arrange all those shells -- talk about devotion! But also, there's the sense of longing from a distance, the image of a sailor pining away at sea for his loved one back home.
It. Kills. Me.
Of all the sailor's valentines I've found on the web, the ones offered by Diana H. Bittel Antiques are the most beautiful. She states that her inventory comes predominantly from Barbados and are circa 1860-1880. Tell me this one doesn't make your heart swell:
Sailors were also known to carve love tokens for their sweethearts. Helen Warren Spector showcases this lovely emblem, which appears to have been carved from bone:
I also love that sailor's valentines often had a functional use. This shell-encrusted jewelry box from Antiques at 30b would make a beautiful centerpiece for an occasional table or buffet: