Christmas Cards

First Christmas card Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

I am sure like me you are thrilled to know the tradition of sending Christmas cards is not in decline! My local TV station reported a 20% surge in the sales of Christmas cards in 2020 and to my surprise the leaders in this growth is attributed to millennials! Apparently during the pandemic florists also experienced an increase in sales.

Although history indicates Christmas greetings have been sent since the C16th, the custom of sending Christmas cards, as we know them today, was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole.

Sir Henry had the idea with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. (That is only 5p or 8 cents today(!), but in those days it was worth much much more.) The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the centre panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner.

Earlier in 1840 Henry Cole also introduced the Penny Post - a public postal system. Along with cheap postage and improved printing methods Christmas cards became much more popular and were produced in large numbers from about 1860.1

How wonderful that this tradition lives on. Christmas cards can have so many themes - religious, humorous, include animals, sold to support charities, old fashioned or topical, recognising famous cartoons or famous artists - as you can see from the selection below.

Tomorrow we will take a look at Christmas cards created by Dutch artist and illustrator, Anton Pieck.