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Whenever we travel, we tend to find gifts for loved ones that show that we’re thinking of them even when we’re far away. In the mid-to-late 1800s, this was the case for sailors that would find their travels bringing them through the seaport of Barbados. It is rumored that a small gift shop in Bridgetown, called New Curiosity Shop, would be a popular destination for sailors looking to bring back gifts from the tropical island and many would purchase a hinged box displaying an intricate pattern of shells. The Sailor’s Valentine.
Often, Sailor’s Valentines would be made of two octagonal mahogany boxes that hinged closed as to protect the glass. Behind the glass of both sides would be symmetrical designs of intricately placed sea shells. The patterns often would bring the attention of a center piece—often a heart design—or messages of love or motto.
This year, the Sailor’s Valentine Santa can be seen standing on the Nantucket sand bringing a “Present from Barbados” which is a representation of one side of a 19th Century double Sailor’s Valentine which sold in 2014 by Rafael Osona Auctions on Nantucket. The Santa himself can be seen with an intricately designed coat of shells, sand dollars, and colors that symbolize the nautical essence of summer. This year’s Nantucket Santa is a great way to show someone that you’re thinking of them, regardless where you find yourself traveling.