It was once thought that sailors made these valentines themselves, to pass the time at sea. Contrary to this belief, sailor's valentines were actually a cottage industry on the island of Barbados, the centre of supply and distribution for English, Dutch and North American ships. It is recorded that the primary source for sailor's valentines was the New Curiosity Shop, located in Bridgetown. The shop was owned by English brothers B.H. and George Belgrave.
The valentines were usually assembled by female residents for sailors to purchase and bring back to their loved ones at home. The craftswomen would often include romantic phrases and flower and heart designs.