Friday, February 12, 2010

Love and Law Enforcement

For four years we have been developing the collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum. One would think that, given the nature of policing, the bulk of what will be in the Museum’s collection is of a serious nature: uniforms, equipment and other tools of the trade, photographs of officers doing their work, items related to bad guys, materials to help us live safer lives, and so on. Indeed, of the over 8,000 items in the collection, the majority of the objects in our collection do represent the serious side of policing. But it’s February, and it’s almost the end of winter. Valentine’s Day is the 14th, and almost everyone’s attention turns to Cupid.

We have acquired two valentines that relate to policing—and I’m happy to share those with you.

What is interesting to me—and I’ve certainly not made a study of valentines, is that they both pun on “please” and “police.”

The first is a mechanical valentine—the clown rotates back and forth, and asks the recipient to “Be my valentine! and ‘poleece’ stop juggling my heart around.” We believe it’s from the middle of the last century (ca. 1940s-50s). It’s signed on the back “To Betty / From / Mum and Dad / with love.”

Police valentine, ca. 1940-1950. 2006.268.1. Collection of the NLEM, Washington, DC.

Police valentine, ca. 1940-1950. 2006.268.1. Collection of the NLEM, Washington, DC.

The second, also believed to be from ca. 1940s-50s, states “Come ahead and ‘police’ be my valentine.”

Police valentine, ca. 1940-1950. R0814. Received by the NLEM, Washington, DC.

If you have any information on these valentines or have thoughts to share about the connection between law enforcement and valentines, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. Why is that scond valentine upside down?

  2. Thanks for asking! It's the way it was printed! If you fold the left side back and down, then bring it toward you like closing a book, it will overlap the second page.

  3. We've now fixed the images to better show both halves of the valentine. Hope that's less confusing!