Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The First Christmas Card

Who doesn't love to get Christmas cards? Many times it is the only time you hear from certain relatives and faraway friends. I love the ones that come with notes about what has been going on in their lives and photos as well. Of course, with the Internet and E-cards, there may be a time in the future when the pretty cards that adorn my house now will be a thing of the past.

So, I thought writing about the first Christmas card would be a great way to start off December. I'm calling the first Christmas card as one that was designed for sale. Prior to 1843, many people sent handwritten Christmas greetings to their families and friends. A London businessman, Sir Henry Cole, decided he just didn't have time to hand-write notes to all his customers and loved ones. He turned to a friend, John C. Horsley, an artist with England's Royal Academy to design a card that required only his signature. He could tuck it in an envelope and mail it.

Horsley designed a three panel card featuring a cheerful Victorian family in the center and on each side was an illustration of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor. You can see a copy of the card at The Victoria Files

A thousand copies were made for Cole to send out. The greeting used: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You has remained one of the favorite holiday card greetings.

Cole's Christmas card idea caught on in England rapidly. Within a few years, everyone was buying and sending cards. The mass production of art and text on a postcard was made possible by lithography. And, it was affordable to mail a card due to the Penny Postage Act.

A card cost a penny to mail. Can you imagine that?

Thanks for stopping by and tomorrow I will have guest blogger, Elise Warner, discussing her new book, Scene Stealer.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Great post! Love the history behind the Christmas card.