The Heart and Hand motif is rooted in European folk art traditions. The heart as a symbol of the wellspring of life, became popular as Christianity spread through Europe in the first centuries. It wasn't until the middle ages that hearts became associated with romantic love. And the giving of heart shaped love tokens was not reserved for Valentine's Day until the 1850's. Prior to that they were given year round as tokens of love and friendship.
In America, the heart motif was popularized in colonial times under the influence of the Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur artists. Collections of wedding and birth certificates are a wonderful source of inspiration for quilt designs. In the 18th century, home furniture makers known as heart and hand artists, decorated chairs, cupboards, cradles and all manner of household items with hearts. Later as these items were mass produced, the heart and hand motif came to symbolize the dignity of hand crafted items lovingly created.
My 13 year old daughter, Rosie made the heart and hand tokens in the top photo. You can follow the link to get a down loadable template or just trace your child's hand and paste a heart in the center to create a personal valentine. Here are some old world heart and hand quotes you may like to use:
A heart for an old friend, a hand for the new. Love can to earth lend heaven's hue.
Hand and heart shall never part. When this you see, remember me.