The German art of paper-cutting created some beautiful — and now valuable — valentines
Thank you for sending me an image of your valentine. It is a great piece and is an example of paper-cutting also called scherenschnitte, which is German for “scissor cuts.” This Christmas I enjoyed cutting out paper snowflakes with my 7-year-old daughter. We actually made around 50 of them and used them to decorate our dining room for Christmas. It was a fun project. Some of them seemed elaborate to us, but certainly not compared with the intricacy of yours or to how fine some of these can be.
Paper cutting started in China in the sixth century. Its tradition eventually traveled to the Middle East and then to Europe in the 17th century, where it became a popular folk art craft. Using scissors and sharp knives, highly detailed scherenschnittes were often embellished with watercolor and mounted onto fabric or other contrasting paper. These paper-cut works were both sketched and then cut, or done free hand (as my snowflakes).
The folk art was brought to North America by German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 18th century. The Pennsylvania Dutch continued the tradition using popular flower and heart motifs. As they are so fragile, early intricate examples are quite rare. They are highly sought after and can bring thousands of dollars.
Your piece is a wonderful example of scherenschnitte valentine from the mid-20th century. It features elaborate carving and is embellished with a poem. What a terrific valentine to receive!
I would value your scherenschnitte valentine at $75.