Forget Me Not, from the 1880s
Sailors' valentines like this one were once thought to have been made by sailors as gifts, but research shows that many of the shell work pieces were probably made as nautical souvenirs by enterprising artisans on the island of Barbados. Some valentines carry the classic phrases "When this you see, remember me" or "Forget me not." The owner of this sailor's valentine may have been a sailor who sailed between these waters and tropical ports.
As they traveled around the world, sailors often made or purchased mementos of their travels for their loved ones back home. During their idle time on board ship, many men carved bone or ivory into trinkets or useful household items such as pie crimpers or winding swifts. Items that were commonly bought in ports of call included jugs, glass rolling pins, and ornate "sailor's valentines" from the island of Barbados.
Donated by an anonymous Vancouver Auction House. 1992. Apparently it belonged to two sister's who inherited from their father (a seaman).
Vancouver Maritime Museum Collection