British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors, Brits at their Best.com, English country scene

Blog Home | All Posts

The Brit behind Christmas Cards

blog_british_library_robin_350.jpg

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.

Comments (1)

Todd Willmarth:

"I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December."

- Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing

Post a comment

(Please do give us your name or the name you write under in the form below and your URL if you have one. Your comment may take a little time to appear. Thanks for waiting.)

COPYRIGHT