When I first saw them in an antique store, they seemed to whisper out my name. They were perched in a small woven basket with a couple of other treasures sitting on a table. They appeared so delicate and unique I had to actually reach down and pick one up. As I held one of the tiny objects in my hand, I could almost feel its history. I examined it closely to be sure to soak up every detail it offered.
Just looking at it made me smile. It was a small framed piece measuring about 3.5 by 3 inches. It just fit in the palm of my hand. It didnt take me long to realize it was an antique valentine card that was intricately cut out forming the shape of the card design. On the card was a pure white dove in flight holding in its beak a tiny note that read Forget me not! The dove was completely surrounded by a beautifully rendered wreath of small blue flowers and pink roses. A womens hand reached in from one side holding the wreath.
It reminded me of some of the beautiful love-themed Victorian cards I have seen over the years. I loved the card itself but the fact that it was old and framed made it a must have.
Rich blue velvet served as a luxurious background for the card to be displayed. Over time it had become faded in places where light had forced it to lose some of its luster. It was the perfect complement to the card because light and time also had slightly faded it. Preserved behind glass, the artwork was in one of the tiniest frames Ive ever seen.
Although small in size, no detail was compromised. The miniature gold frame had lots of interesting detail. I flipped it over to see what was on the back. A thick and embossed card stock served as a protectant and sealed the small piece. I just had to run my finger across the fancy embossing. Parts of it were scraped away as a result of years and years of hanging against a wall. An old and rusty wire was still attached -- as were the memories.
Still in the basket was apparently the mate to this beautiful expression of love. I wondered how I could possibly like it any more than the one I held while reaching down for the other one. A white dove also adorned this card. Although similar in feel, it was different. A pale pink ribbon elegantly flowed from the beak of the dove that read All Joys Be Thine. Delicate flowers and greenery formed a soft nest for the bird as another womans beautiful hand softly brushed one of the wings of the dove.
It was against blue velvet and there was no doubt these framed pieces had belonged to one person and needed to stay together. I decided to purchase them both. I wasnt about to separate them after they had survived all this time together. It just wouldnt have been right.
Since they were valentine-themed, I thought they would be a perfect gift for my wife, Debra, to express love on the day proclaimed to do so. I couldnt wait to get them home and wrap them up to give her. I was hoping she would adore them as much as I had. I could hardly wait until Valentines Day night. I held my breath as she opened them and, just like they had with me, they spoke to her.
I was so thrilled that these antique tokens of love had found another home. Their days of giving joy were not yet over. In a world sometimes filled with despair, negativity and hopelessness, these framed cards still offered messages of peace. love and hope.
Some of my favorite possessions are the ones that once belonged to someone else. In the disposable world we live in, not much thought is given to just tossing something away. By the way these tiny treasures were framed, there was no doubt they had been incredibly important to someone -- or maybe several owners.
Thats part of the mystique of owning an antique. You never really know its story. You just know that you have something that was once treasured by someone else and now you are in charge of preserving it for the next owners. To me, its a big responsibility.
Throughout our home, we have collected many antique treasures. Some of them actually are family pieces. Others, like the tiny framed valentines, are from someone we never met. Every one of them evokes a special memory and, by doing so, brings us joy. When I think about the possessions that mean the most to me, they are the ones that have a history and tell a story from long ago. They are the ones that have survived the test of time and continue to do so.
There are also those gifts that may be newer but are given to us by a dear friend and, because of that, will always hold a very special memory. As these gifts become older and weather time, they will be passed on as well.
Later, as I glanced at the beautifully framed valentines, I wondered what kind of person would have received such special tokens of love years and years ago. The answer was a simple one -- someone like Debra who is just as special to me. The next question I asked myself was who would get them when were gone. I dont know the answer to this question, but it is my hope it will be someone very special!
More with Mark
Join Mark on Saturday for the Peach Blossom Festival at Lane Southern Orchards from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Hell be signing his new cookbook, Delicious, and doing a cooking demo. The rest of the day there will be vendors, singers, dancers, school groups and a kids play area. For more information, call (478) 825-3592.
Check out Marks website, www.markballard.com, for current projects, recipes and lots of other fun stuff.
Mark is on www.macon.com 24 hours a day. Videos, columns and articles are featured.
Mark Ballards column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; fax them to (478) 474-4930; call (478) 757-6877; e-mail to email@example.com; or become a subscriber to Marks Facebook page.