The First Christmas Card

The industrial Christmas card as we know it originated in London in 1843. That winter season, Sir Henry Cole, a civil servant who helped arrange the Great Exhibit as well as develop the Victoria as well as Albert Gallery, determined he was also active to write specific Xmas greetings to his household, buddies and also business coworkers. He asked his pal, the painter John Callcott Horsley, to create a card with an image as well as quick welcoming that he can mail instead.

Horsley made a triptych, with both side panels portraying good deeds (clothes the nude and also feeding the hungry) and the center panel revealing a family members Christmas event. The inclusion of liquor at this event got Cole and Horsley an earful from the British Temperance Motion. At the bottom of the center panel was the inscription “A Merry Christmas and a Pleased New Year to You.”

The card was lithographed on 5 1/8″ X 3 1/4″ rigid cardboard in dark sepia and then tinted by hand. An edition of 1,000 cards was published and sold at Felix Summerly’s Treasure House in London for a shilling each. Of those cards, twelve exist today in private collections, consisting of the one Cole sent out to his grandma.
Sending Cards Across the Fish pond

prang.jpgMass-printed cards quickly changed hand-written introductions in most of Europe and also the United States. Americans imported their Christmas cards from England till 1875, when a German immigrant named Louis Prang opened a lithographic store and produced the first line of Christmas cards in the states.

While Prang was quickly creating more than 5 million Christmas cards yearly and also had been referred to as the “daddy of the American Christmas card,” his success really did not last lengthy. (At left is an example of Prang’s work.) The initial appeal of his cards resulted in imitations that were less expensive and also featured seasonal pictures as opposed to the vibrant floral plans Prang favored. Prang’s impersonators drove him out of the marketplace in 1890, as well as affordable Xmas postcards imported from Germany ruled up until World War I.

By the end of the war, the modern greeting card market had been birthed as well as today it supplies the 2,000,000,000+ Funny Christmas Cards that are sent out annually.