The Brit behind Christmas Cards
Christmas card in the collection of the British Library, which will help you email your greetings.
Somehow you just knew a Brit was behind Christmas cards.
Was there something in the air? In 1843, the same year that Dickens published A Christmas Carol, a Brit invented the printed Christmas card. The first in the world, the card showed a happy family raising a festive glass, while side scenes showed the family clothing and feeding the poor.
The man who commissioned it was Sir Henry Cole, the founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The painter was John Calcott Horsely, a member of the Royal Academy, who was known as "Clothes-Horsely" because he did not care to paint women nude. Printed in black and white and then colored by hand, 1,000 cards were produced for "Old King" Cole.
The tradition did not really take off until the Christmas of 1862 when printer Charles Goodall produced a simple card with the words "A Merry Christmas". Robins were added later, followed by holly, jolly depictions of St Nick and beautiful images of the Holy Family. Features like the "trick card", with a surprise generated by moving a tab, proved popular with some.
It was also around this time that the last-minute rush to the post office became a seasonal feature.
This post has been republished.