The story of Sailors' Valentines evokes romance-majestic sailing ships and long sea voyages, adventures in the New World, and daydreams of loved ones across wide oceans. It has been said that sailors made the Valentines at sea for cherished friends and family to pass the time and to bestow as gifts upon their return.Very rare and highly collectible, Sailors' Valentines are octagonal wooden boxes made of Spanish cedar or mahogany. They contain intricate, stunning mosaics made primarily of colorful shells and often incorporate sentimental messages. The mosaics are covered in glass and often hinged together in pairs. When closed, the shell work is hidden and the glass protected so that the Valentines can be stored safely for travel. Now fetching extraordinary prices at auction and antiques fairs-as much as $35,000-they were actually made by craftsmen at the height of the Victorian Age in Barbados, a familiar port of call for many American and European ships.Now, for the first time ever, these highly prized and rarely seen antiques are presented at almost life size in this innovative and stunning package that mirrors the shape of an actual Valentine. Here are over fifty magnificent examples, photographed especially for this book and beautifully reproduced in detail. Page after page, this octagonal volume, which comes in a deluxe cloth keepsake box, captures the experience of holding one of these magnificent treasures in your hands. Avid collector John Fondas shares his expertise on the history, making, and collecting of Valentines in his introductory essay as well as provides a detailed listing of the shells used in their construction.A collectible itself, Sailors' Valentines will delight shell collectors, antiques lovers, Victoriana fans, and romantics of all ages.