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.

Cape Cod’s Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse

Hyannis Harbor Light

By Mary Moran

Hyannis, a village in the town of Barnstable and the highest populated area on Cape Cod, was once a busy and successful port for both fishing and trade in the 1800’s. It is located in what is called the Mid Cape area. With maritime traffic increasing, the need for a navigational aid in the harbor became apparent. The Point Gammon Light, built at the southern approach to the harbor in 1816, guided vessels to the harbor, but another light was needed for the dangerous areas inside the harbor itself. Daniel Snow Hallett, a Barnstable local, did his best to provide his own light for the waters by hanging a lamp in the window of a beach shack that he built at his own expense. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t very effective and in 1848, $2,000 was appropriated by Congress to erect a proper lighthouse in the South Hyannis Harbor area.

In May of the following year, the freshly built Hyannis Harbor Light, a 19-foot conical brick tower, was put into service. The structure consisted of five oil lamps and parabolic reflectors that provided a fixed white light 43 feet above the water level. The lighthouse also produced a red sector to warn passing vessels away from the dangerous Southwest Shoal.The Hyannis Harbor Light property expanded in 1851 when another $800 was given in order to build a house for a lighthouse keeper. The wooden structure was built beside the lighthouse, connected by a convenient covered walkway. The position of keeper was given to John H. Lothrop in 1871 but was soon taken over by his son, Alonzo, in 1878 after Lothrop’s death only eight years into his duty. Alonzo Lothrop remained at his inherited post for a little over 20 years. He resigned from the position in 1899. After his resignation, the keeper position was given to a man named Captain John Peak. Peak had come from a long legacy of lighthouse keepers and was known for letting the local children help with his lighthouse chores and even giving private sailing lessons to the children who were able to swim. Almost fifteen years after Peak’s retirement in 1915, the Hyannis Harbor Light was discontinued and its lantern was removed from the structure. The lighthouse, keeper’s house, and property were sold at auction to A.W. Fuller for $7,007. Fuller then sold the property and throughout the years the old lighthouse was passed through the hands of many owners. Current owners, Janice Hyland and Alan Granby, built their own unique top to the lighthouse tower. Although it is anything but traditional, it is reportedly an excellent spot to catch a glorious Cape Cod sunset. In addition to the original lighthouse, the keeper’s house (1849) and oil house (1902) both remain standing to this day, and although the property is privately owned, one can get a great view of the old tower by taking a stroll east on Keyes Beach in Hyannis.

Hyannis is just twenty miles from the Palmer House Inn. While in Hyannis one can visit the JFK Cape Cod Museum that commemorates the president’s life on the Cape. There are also harbor cruises where visitors view the harbor and the Kennedy compound buildings and grounds.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of sightseeing on Cape Cod, 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 for a relaxing stay before and after your day.


Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.

Fantastic Cape Events This Fall

3 Fantastic Cape Events this Fall in Falmouth, Cape Cod.

3 Fantastic Cape Events This Fall

Festivals, fine music, and frights for everyone.

3 Fantastic Cape Events this Fall in Falmouth, Cape Cod.
3 Fantastic Cape Events this Fall in Falmouth, Cape Cod.

Scallop Fest 2015, September 18, 19, 20, 2015

Scallops by the sea, Cape Cod
Scallops by the bay.

50,000+ Patrons over 3 fun-filled days! Famous Fried Scallop & Herb Roasted Chicken Dinners, a Food Court – Beer & Wine, Chowder, Lobster Rolls, Raw Bar, Hotdogs, Burgers, Salads, Wraps, Fried Dough, a Juried Arts & Craft Show, Fantastic Entertainment, an Inflatable Ride Park & Obstacle Course, and more. Held at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds, just 15 minutes from the Palmer House Inn.

www.scallopfest.org

JazzFest Falmouth, September 26 – October 4

JazzFest Falmouth
JazzFest Falmouth

Our second fantastic Cape event this Fall is wonderful, JazzFest Falmouth, an eight-day celebration of a uniquely American art form presented by ArtsFalmouth. There will be lectures, recitals, concerts, a Jazz Stroll, a Jam Session, and a jazz brunch. 

We will have cranberry oatmeal cookies and cider as afternoon refreshments. By the way, the Friday evening entertainment starts at the Queen’s Buyway shops with entertainment in the shops. Then they stroll past the Palmer House to the Museums on the Green where there will be more entertainment, then down to Main Street for an evening where the shops stay open late with entertainment.

www.jazzfestfalmouth.org

Falmouth Village of Scarecrows, October 2015

Each fall for the last few years, one by one the scarecrows begin appearing throughout Falmouth Village, MA.  See if you can find all them all. We’re also looking forward to Falmouth’s annual Halloween festivities: the Trick or Treat Stroll, A Visit with the Night Watchman at the Museums on the Green, and Halloween Spooktacular at Highfield Hall.

Falmouth Village of Scarecrows, Palmer House
Falmouth Village of Scarecrows, Palmer House

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures on Cape Cod, 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 for a relaxing stay before and after your day.