A Fine Romance

By Karen Parr-Moody


You’ll always find romance at GasLamp and GasLamp Too, and not just on Valentine’s Day. But the dealers really bring out some fine romance right before Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays at GasLamp. To celebrate, I recently bought an English pink tiered pedestal, a Valentine’s themed vintage handkerchief and a Valentine’s Day card there. I will use the pedestal for a Valentine’s themed party at my house by filling it with mini cheesecakes. I’ll frame the hankie and give the card to my husband.

I almost bought the pink dog planter in the photo, right, but I wanted to include it in this story (photo, right; $10; Booth B-110). That said, I have purchased many vintage planters from GasLamp and here’s why: They possess much more charm than anything available at chain stores, plus they are the same price. Why buy a boring terra cotta pot at Lowe’s when you can buy a pink dog and fill it with matching tulips? Such a gift is a great pick-me-up, plus one can use the planter indoors afterward for ivy.

The date of Valentine’s Day was established in ancient Rome, when February 13, 14 and 15 were celebrated as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival. But it wasn’t until around 500 A.D. that the day was named Saint Valentine’s Day after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine. It is thought that the celebrated heart shape derives from the shape of seed pods from an extinct plant, the silphium.

The ubiquitous Valentine’s hearts are scattered across these charming folded handkerchiefs at Booth B-110 (photo right; assorted prices, $7 and $8). These lively designs will make great decorations when framed.

In mid-18th century England, the passing of “love notes” became popular (those Victorians!). This was the true precursor to the Valentine's card as we know it today. Early ones were made of lace and paper. By the early 19th century, Valentine cards become so popular in England that factories start to mass-produce them. In 1847, Esther Howland of Massachusetts produced the cards stateside, with paper lace. In 1913, Hallmark produced its first Valentine’s card … and the rest is history.

And at Carol Williams’ booth, Aunt Enid’s Attic (Booth B-110), she features an assortment of reproduction cards from the Laughing Elephant (photo, left). There are packages of whimsical cards that include 15 unique designs, for $9.95, and single cards that sell for $2 each. Many GasLamp vendors are serving up similar cards, both vintage and modern, in their booths this season.

“I always enjoy Valentine’s Day,” says dealer Jason Parker Counce, who has filled his booth with red rabbits for the holiday. “It’s the first fun holiday of the New Year – bright and red, with accents of rosy pinks and chocolate browns.”

Counce’s cute handmade rabbit, photo right, is billed as a “candy box” but would be adorable as a jewelry holder ($24; Booth B-309). What a great idea: Just put a little diamond sumpin’ sumpin’ under this rabbit’s foot for good luck. 

Few items exemplify the 1950s era — or the notion of romantic Paris — as much as the poodle, as seen on this piece of pink luggage (photo, left; $48.95, Booth B-370). The poodle skirt kicked off the craze of that decade; it was designed by a young actress-turned-designer named Juli Lynne Charlot. Her first attempt at the circle pattern skirt actually had Christmas trees on the hem; the poodle treatment was a second rendition.

This year, for Valentine’s Day, the GasLamp booths are filled with many romantic treats, from vintage Valentine’s cards to pink poodles. So gift your beloved – or yourself – something that warms the heart.


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