You can't blame Hallmark for the tradition of card-swapping and gift-giving on Valentine's Day in America. It started way before Hallmark even existed as a company, with a woman named Esther Howland, a Massachusetts artist and business lady born in 1828.

Howland is dubbed, "The Mother of the American Valentine" and is credited with popularizing the tradition of sending Valentine's Day cards in America.

In honor of the tradition Howland started, here's a collection of vintage Valentine's Day cards from the 1800s to the 1950's.

This was one of America's first Valentine's Day cards, created by Esther Howland in the 1850s. (Wikicommons)

Creepy Vintage Valentine's Day Cards

Is this red paint or blood? You decide.

Vintage Valentines: This valentine from the early 1900s was created by Richard Felton Outcault (Wikicommons)

Be my valentine, at gunpoint.

Vintage Valentines: Mechanical Valentines Day Card from 1920s. (wikicommons)

Is this a threat or a promise?

Vintage Valentines (Flickr Bestbib&Tucker)

Here's a Valentine's Day greeting from your stalker.

Vintage Valentines: This American Valentine is from the 1920s and is attributed to Charles Twelvetrees (Wikicommons)

This guy's ready in case you put up a fight.

Vintage valentines: (Flickr User: Karen Horton)
Vintage valentines day cards (Flickr User ronijj)

 Vinegar Valentines Day Cards

The practice of sending Vinegar Valentines is one long-gone in America, where it was practiced as early as the mid-1800s.

Vinegar valentines were usually one-sided greeting cards with a sarcastic or insulting poem which were sent anonymously to the unlucky recipients.

Vintage Valentines: Vinegar Valentine by Raphael Tuck 1906 (Wikicommons)
Vintage Valentines: A "Simpering Miss" Vinegar Valentine (Wikicommons)

Cute Vintage Valentines

This vintage valentine is circa 1950 (Wikicommons)

 

Vintage valentine is dated 1938. (Flickr User: karenhorton)

 

Vintage Valentines Day card circa 1940s to 1950s (Wikicommons)
Vintage valentines. (Flickr User Karen Horton)
This vintage valentine is circa 1930s. (wikicommons)