Last week I spent a day away from the gallery and traveled to the Cape, specifically to the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Cotuit, to see their summer exhibition: Exquisite Shells: The Art of Sailors Valentines. I had been there a month ago to deliver a large sailors valentine by our longtime gallery artist Sandi Blanda and knew that I would want to come back once the exhibition was open to the public.
Curated by the Cahoon’s director Sarah Johnson, Ph.D., the exhibition traces the history of this unique seashell craft from its 19th-century beginnings to the current day. One of the first valentines on view is documented from the 1840s and was purchased in 1848 by Captain Thomas H. Lawrence of Falmouth, Massachusetts while he was passing through Barbados. Upon his return home from sea, he presented it to his bride to be, Mercy.