Enjoy “An Old Christmas Card” song by Jim Reeves, 1963:
In the mid 1800’s, in the UK, Sir Henry Cole had the bright idea to share cards amongst his friends. John Horsley, his good friend and an artist, designed the very first Christmas greeting card for him. About one thousand cards were designed and sent out. As the idea caught on, the problem was not the cards, it was how to get them to the friends you wished, “A Good Tidings” to.
Though delivering a package was costly and the poor could never afford such an expense, Sir Henry decided to create a “Penny Post” for folks to drop off their cards to; thus, the creation of the post office. So, for about a Penny stamp, their mail was sent. As this tradition spread in 1860, Christmas cards were mass produced and the postage dropped to a half-penny.
The original cards were colorful with pictures of children caroling or Nativity scenes. Some cards were decorated with snow scenes and red robin birds. Mail carriers at this time, were called “Robin Postmen” in tribute to the birds.
The tradition caught on in America, in 1849, by Louis Prang. He was a German immigrant that grew up in the printing business and started the Christmas card fad here. About 1915, John C. Hall started to mass produce the greeting cards in our country. And so began the infamous company we’ve learned to count on for the holiday season….the original creator of Hallmark cards!
I find it very interesting that the Christmas card industry gave birth to the post office. Who would of thought, much less in the UK? I hope today, as we all pray for peace and joy, may God fill your heart with tidings as and it won’t cost a cent to share those feelings with others!
More Fun Facts About Christmas Cards
- The first known ‘personalized’ Christmas Card was sent in 1891 by the famous sharpshooter, Annie Oakley.
- Homemade cards became popular in the 1910’s. They were only delivered by hand because of their delicate condition.
- The very first Christmas card (shown above) created by Jon Horsley was not liked by many because it showed a child being given a glass of wine.
- In the nineteenth century, the British Post Office used to deliver cards on Christmas morning.
- In the 1940s, many nonprofits were raising money by selling special sets of Christmas cards that carried their institution’s logo or an image inspired by its mission. UNICEF was the largest distributor of these cards.
An engraved card by the artist William Egley, who illustrated some of Charles Dickens’s books, is on display in the British Museum.
First Victorian Christmas card, made in the USA