A Sailor’s Valentine

Sailing Sky High

Sailor’s Valentines on Cape Cod

By Pat O’Connell

Sailing Sky High
“Sailing Sky High” by Martha Cahoon.

Many folks believe that Sailor’s Valentines were created by sailing men aboard ships. It’s thought that the sailors used the projects to wile away the time at sea. However, when one stops to think about a sailor’s life, that thought just doesn’t make sense for a number or reasons.

First, can you imagine doing such intricate work aboard a ship while it is pitching and rolling? Second, there were not many idle moments aboard merchant or whaling ship. The crew was either working, eating or sleeping. And third, space was at a premium aboard those ships. There just wasn’t much room for storing personal items.

This is a Sailor’s Valentine that is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.
This is a Sailor’s Valentine that is on display at the Falmouth Museums on the Green.

A Sailor’s Valentine is Intricate Sea Shell Art

They were created as a sentimental or souvenir gift. They use large numbers of small varied colored seashells that are glued into intricately symmetrical designs. The original Sailor’s Valentines were made between 1830 and 1890. They were created to be taken home as a memento of a sailor’s voyage at sea and given to his loved ones.  Most often, they are octagonal designs and were usually between 8 to 20 inches wide. Seashells are glued into place then mounted in a hinged wooden box. The patterns often featured a centerpiece such as a heart shape or a compass rose. In some instances the shells were used to spell out a sentimental message or a motto.

Sailor's Valentine in the Palmer House's James Fenimore Cooper room
Sailor’s Valentine in the Palmer House’s James Fenimore Cooper room.
Sailor's Valentine
Palmer House lnn’s Sailor’s Valentine.

Many of the Sailor’s Valentines were produced in the island of Barbados. This island was an important seaport during the age of sail. It’s believed that women on Barbados made the valentines using local seashells. It’s also  believed that some of the shells were imported from Indonesia. The finished product was then sold to sailors as souvenirs.

John Fondas, author of “Sailors Valentines” states that the most common source for Sailor’s Valentines was the “New Curiosity Shop”  that was located on MacGregor Street in Brighton, Barbados.  It was a popular shop where sailors liked to purchase souvenirs. It was owned by B.H. and George Belgrave who were brothers. John Fondas tells about a Sailors Valentine that was being repaired. During the job a Barbados newspaper was found inside the backing material.

Today the original Sailor’s Valentines are collectible and are valued for their color, beauty and unique qualities. Collectors have sparked interest in this unique art form. Sailor’s Valentine kits can now be purchased in craft shops and online.

The Nantucket Whaling Museum has an extensive collection of the antique Sailor’s Valentines, in addition, our own Falmouth Museums on the Green also has two excellent examples of antique sailors valentines in the Doctor Francis Wick’s House. The valentines were brought to Falmouth by some of Falmouth’s sailors many years ago.

If you are interested in creating a Sailor’s Valentine of your own. Susan Black, a native of Nantucket, has kits that can be purchased online. Each kit includes an octagonal wooden box with a hinged glass front and a collection of seashells from around the world. website

We hope you have a romantic Valentine’s Day.


Carved mahogany four poster bed in the Roosevelt Room.
Carved mahogany four poster bed in the Roosevelt Room.
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Emily Dickinson Room

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of artistic adventures on Cape Cod’s, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Fall Weddings & Winter Weddings

Fall wedding

Photos from a few of our favorite Fall & Winter Weddings

This beautiful couple wanted an intimate winter wedding in an elegant home. We were married in December so winter weddings hold a special place in our hearts.

Winter weddings on Cape Cod by the Christmas tree
This handsome couple were married the week before Christmas. The halls were decked at the Palmer House Inn which created a festive setting.

Winter wedding for a happy couple.

Winter wedding at the Palmer House Inn located in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
Winter wedding

A joyous fall wedding.

Fall wedding at the Palmer House
Joy was in the air on this brisk Fall day. The elopement/wedding was warm and cosy within the Palmer House Inn.

 

A Winter Wedding Elopment for a beautiful couple.

Same sex winter weddings vows by the fireplace.
Wedding vows by the fireplace. These lovely ladies’ wish was to be married on New year’s Day. They started a new year and a new life together.

 

Winter weddings can be fun. This couple wanted some photos in the snow.

Winter weddings on Cape Cod in the snow
Photo with a photo in the snow. Love was in the air on the first day of spring for this happy couple. They wanted to recreate his parent’s wedding day look.

Fall wedding ceremony at the gazebo

Wedding ceremony in the gazebo at the Museums on the Green in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
Wedding ceremony in the gazebo at the Museums on the Green.

More on Fall and Winter Weddings on Cape Cod


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guestrooms have their own charm, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room for your wedding. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

The Humble Innkeepers’ Garden

Cape Cod Herb Garden Basil

By Pat O’Connell

Photography By Pat O’Connell

Cape Cod Herb Garden Basil
This past year I chose some miniature basil along with some more traditional verities.

There are many locations on the Palmer House Inn’s property where I enjoy spending time, however, without a doubt, our herb garden is my favorite. When we first bought the inn the basic design of the garden had been laid out. There were eight four by four foot plots that had been outlined with cobblestones by the previous owner.  Some of them had been planted with perennials that were well established. There also were two rectangular granite posts at the entrance. However, the entire garden had been neglected for several years. It just looked like a large tangle of leaves and stems. I was not sure where to begin but over the years with lots of trial and error, the design has evolved. I have been to lectures and done some reading and had advice from knowledgeable friends and guests.

The choice of the name for the garden goes back to a time when I had the opportunity to travel in China with one of our daughters. One of the most beautiful places we visited was “The Humble Administrator’s Garden”. It is located in the city of Suzhou and is a miniature garden. It is said to be one of the most beautiful gardens in China. I decided to name our garden in memory of that wonderful trip.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guest rooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring the workshops of our Cape Cod craftsmen, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.