Seashells have fascinated the world for centuries. The aesthetic beauty of shells has influenced architecture, art and science in many forms. Great collections exist worldwide, and still today, children and adults stroll the beaches looking for gifts from the sea.

During the days of the magnificent sailing ships in the 19th century, Barbados was a port of call where sailors purchased artistic shell mosaics from local islanders to take home to loved ones after their long journeys. These mosaics came to be known as sailors' valentines, and many contained love messages. Antique valentines are highly prized. Sailors' valentines are traditionally made in an octagonal wooden case, resembling a compass. They are then covered with glass, which is secured to protect the shell work. Inspired by the history and romance of days gone by, contemporary artists are enjoying the resurgence of this fascinating art.

Recommended reading:
Sailors' Valentines: Their Journey Through Time  (Grace Madeira, Constance Marshall Miller, Mary S. Page, Ann T. Schutt )
Sailors' Valentines - John Fondas