Those who would like to see how people used to say, "I love you," are invited to the Dobson Museum in Miami for a display of a collection of Valentines.
Although the Valentines are owned by Laura Ransbottom of Tulsa, her mother, Sally Rollins of Miami, calls herself the "keeper of the stuff."
"My father used to say that anything kept at his house for more than six months became his," Rollins said with a laugh. "Iíve taken care of the Valentines for a lot longer than six months."
The collection began when Ransbottom was only 12- or 13-years-old.
"Vesta Fisk used to teach English at Miami High School," Rollins said. "Her mother used to live a few doors down from us. When she died, Laura helped Fisk clean out a garage on her property."
Discovered in the garage was a heart-shaped Valentine candy box bulging at the seams.
"Fisk said that the Valentines in the box were made by her motherís students," Rollins said. "She just gave them to Laura."
Ransbottom was fascinated by the Valentines, which started her on her own collection.
She purchased old Valentines at garage sales and flea markets and, according to her mother, told people not to throw them out but to give them to her.
She began collecting all kinds of old Valentines and has some that are moveable and others that fold out.
One of Rollinsí favorites is of a World War I soldier who was injured and has real gauze wrapped around his head.
The oldest one dates to 1892.
Valentines with a copyright of "Germany" printed on the back are usually among the oldest, according to Rollins. Originally created in 19th-century Germany, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Mass., home in 1847 with hand-made Valentine cards.
After a while, the Valentines became harder to find and Ransbottom narrowed her collection down to those containing hearts and those that were handmade.
"I think the most expensive Valentine we bought cost 50 cents," Rollins said. "Laura had 35 cents and I paid the rest. When you think about it, 40 years ago that was a lot of money."
Today, the Valentines are worth a great deal more. The oldest are starting to disintegrate and Rollins is looking into their maintenance.
Ransbottom gave a speech on her Valentineís collection while attending a speech class at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
She and her mother created a display that was mounted on a bulletin board at Pittsburg (Kan.) State University.
Theyíve also been on display at the Miami Public Library several times.
They will be on display at the Dobson Museum through February.
The museum is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The public is invited.