12 February 2021

Eliza Curtis, Valentine Designer

Selection of Eliza Curtis valentines from her Slate series. Images from ebay

A popular style of valentine in 1903 was designed by artist Miss Eliza Curtis (1872-1955) who was living in SLC at the time.

Eliza worked as a teacher and an artist. She primarily grew up in Philadelphia with her 3 brothers, mostly raised by her aunt after both her parents died.

Two of her brothers relocated to SLC in the early 1900s and Eliza followed them to SLC for a short time.

Eliza did not live in SLC very long, only a couple years between 1902 and 1904 but the SLC newspapers claimed her as a local Salt Laker when her valentine art found mainstream appeal.

Eliza drew her Slate Valentines series in 1902 while she was a kindergarten teacher at Miss Charlotte Hayden’s Private School in the 18th Ward of SLC. She based her drawings on her real-life pupils and asked many of her students to pose for her.

She sold her valentines designs to Raphael Tuck & Co publishers and was credited under the name “E Curtis.”

Eliza created many valentines for Raphael Tuck through the years. Another popular series was the Garden Patch which was published in 1907 and feature a variety of people with heads made of fruits and vegetables.

Eliza relocated to NYC in 1905 where she continued her art. She married George Newell Moran in 1908.

Eliza and George worked on several projects together including the 1913 book “Kwahu the Hopi Indian Boy” which was written by George, illustrated by Eliza, and featured photographs of ethnographic objects from the Smithsonian Institute. It is now available on Google Books and several other digital formats.

Sources: SL Telegram 1903-02-13; SL Herald Sun 1903-05-31

Photo of Eliza and some of her valentines, from SL Herald Sun 1903-05-31

Eliza Curtis “Dutch Child” postcard style valentine, front. Image from ebay.

Eliza Curtis “Dutch Child” postcard style valentine, back. Image from ebay.

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