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 The Origins of Christmas Cards

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PostSubject: The Origins of Christmas Cards   Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:09 pm

The Origins of Christmas Cards

It was in December 1843 that a young British civil servant by the name of Henry Cole decided he didn’t have time to write long letters to all his friends and relatives at Christmas- time. He asked an artist, John Horsley, to design a Christmas card for him with the words: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you. The card had the picture of a family raising their glasses to toast the holiday. This created a furor among Puritans in England who declared it was promoting drunkenness, but 1000 of the cards were sold at 1 shilling each. The penny post card and the first stamp had been introduced in Britain in 1840, so there was no problem in sending the new Christmas greeting cards.

Christmas cards did not become popular in America until the mid-1870’s when German immigrant, Louis Prang, designed and printed beautiful colored pictures of winter scenes on his cards and became known as the “father of American Christmas cards.” But as popular as Prang’s cards were, they were impractical to produce and by the end of the 19th century, less expensive cards flooded the market, forcing Prang out of business. Prior to World War I, many of the cards sold in America came from Germany, but after the war, the production of Christmas cards in the United states became a big business. For over 160 years, Christmas cards have reflected the times, wars, fashions, fads, even science and technology. Though card lists may be reduced due to increased postage, the tradition of touching the hearts of friends and relatives at Christmas time, survives.
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PostSubject: Re: The Origins of Christmas Cards   Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:06 pm

A form of Christmas card began in England first when young boys practiced their writing skills by creating Christmas greetings for their parents, but it is Sir Henry Cole who is credited with creating the first real Christmas card. The first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Henry found himself too busy in the Christmas season of 1843 to compose individual Christmas greetings for his friends.
He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley for the illustration. The card featured three panels, with the center panel depicting a family enjoying Christmas festivities and the card was inscribed with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You."
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