This antique souvenir was most likely gifted to a lover, by a merchant marine or fisherman. The seashells are affixed to an heart shaped, upholstered velvet material. The front side features a printed miniature seaside landscape, framed in a pattern of seashells and coral. The underside contains the words "A Present" in gilt gold, framed in a similar manner to the front.
It measures 4" width x 4.5" L
Condition: This is an old piece, so it has wear and tear relevant with age.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, seashells like these were intricately arranged into geometric mosaics known as “sailors’ valentines.” They were—and still are—made by gluing hundreds of shells onto cotton batting, and framing the work with octagonal cases of wood and glass. The designs incorporated hearts, flowers, and nautical symbols such as anchors or compass roses. They might also bear a message—“Home Again” or “Forget Me Not”—spelled out in tiny shells. They were given by whalers and merchant seamen to loved ones when the men safely returned home from what could have been months or even years at sea.