The First Christmas Cards

First Christmas Card, England 1843

The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843 and featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley. The first card pictured a family with a small child drinking wine together. Early English cards featured illustrations of flowers and fairies as a reminder of spring’s approach. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular. Cards were printed with elaborate shapes, decorations and materials.

One of the First Series of American Cards, 1873Another of the First Series of American Christmas Cards.

In 1873 Louis Prang of Boston printed the first Christmas cards available in the US. His cards helped establish the modern image of Santa.  By 1900 postcards had become popular. The exchange of Christmas cards became very popular. In 2005, despite a decline of about 30% since 1987, Americans sent out almost two billion cards. With the popularity of the internet, email cards have become more popular.

Tomorrow, The First of Rita Bay’s VERY Expensive Gifts    Rita Bay

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