Who Sent the First Christmas Card?

Christmas Card
Christmas Card


In taking part in sharing the joy of the Christmas spirit, sharing Christmas greetings is done. There is a growing popularity of sending Christmas greetings online, but that has not deterred the use of Christmas cards. Perhaps the personal touch involving handwritten cards is keeping the tradition alive. Christmas cards can be purchased over the counter and online on websites such as Basic Invite, where Blessed Christmas Card and Printed Holiday Cards are available. These websites have a comprehensive range card displayed where you get to choose a design that appeals to you. The sending of Christmas cards dates back to the Victorian era. Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first commercial Christmas card, whereas Queen Victoria sent the first official Christmas card.

How the first Christmas card came about?

In 1843 during the holiday season, Sir Henry Cole had many friends due to mingling with Victorian England’s elite and social circles. During Christmas and New Year’s, an old custom in England involved sending letters to wish happy holidays to friends and associates. The “Penny Post” introduction involved sending a card or letter anywhere around the country by attaching a penny stamp to the correspondence. Being a busy man brought a lot of anxiety to Sir Henry due to the number of letters he had to write and respond to his friends. In Victorian England, not responding to mail was considered impolite hence the need to figure out how to respond to his friends.

Cole invested in a genius idea in his mind; he approached a friend J.C Horsley an artist and asked him to design the concept that came to be the first Christmas card.

How did the first Christmas card look?

Horsley’s illustration of the first Christmas card had a triptych showing a Christmas celebration of a family at a table bound by two images of people assisting the poor. Sir Henry printed a thousand copies of the card using a London printer. The printed card photos were on a 5 1/8 by three ¼ inches size cardboard, with a salutation on top of each cardboard written, “Too: ___,” allowing personalization of responses. A generic Christmas greeting, “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You,” was also printed on the cardboard. This was my first Christmas card. In the family image, several children with parents and older siblings were holding a glass of wine. The moderate movement of the society in England led to people thinking the photo encouraged underage drinking. However, this never deterred the thought that the cards saved a lot of time, and with time it became a widely accepted method of sending Christmas greetings.

How did the Christmas card grow into the modern-day card?

Sending Christmas cards became the norm of Christmas celebrations several decades later. The celebration of different holidays expanded the card-sending market with new holidays invention. With time more artistic designs of the card were invented that were vivid and with beautiful reproductions. Some of the images included were animals, nature, and plants. The appreciation and artistry of quality Christmas cards grew in the late 1800s. The reason is competitions organized by card publishing companies, with numerous gifts for the winning design.

In 1915 the modern Christmas card industry began with a postcard printing company in Kansas City owned by Joyce Hall and his brothers William and Rollie. The Hall brothers’ Company (later changed to Hallmark) adopted a new design format for the cards. The size adopted was 4 inches wide by 6 inches high card, folded once at the center and enclosed in an envelope. Also, the room for typing has increased since initially; people didn’t have enough space to share all they had to say. It is the design currently adopted nowadays though the card size varies from small to larger.

In the new “book” format- currently the industry standard- of Christmas cards, the printed images contain colorful Christmas cards having red-suited Santa and shiny stars of Bethlehem and Joly clichéd messages inside. Such cards grew in popularity in the 1930s- 1950s as card hunger grew. New ideas came about to make more and more sales. The commissioning of famous artists to design Christmas cards led to the creation of cards by Grandma Moses, Salvador Dali, and Norman Rockwell. These artists contributed to developing a series of cards for Hallmark publishers. The most popular Christmas card design is that which contains an image of Cherubic angels. Two angels in the image bow down in prayer. The third angel has big baby blue eyes, with a skewed halo as he peers out of the card. The Message on the card reads, “God bless you, keep you… at Christmastime and always,”. The card was first published in 1977 and is part of the Hallmark collection selling 34 million copies.


Today’s celebration of sending Christmas cards continues, with more minor, niche card publishers displaying cards in paper stores and gift shops and doing much of the card innovation. These small publishers are continuously inventing many new design ideas for the cards. In selling the cards, various marketing strategies that deal in Holiday cards, weddings and baby events, and other occasional events have led to creation of websites specializing in card sales. Sir Henry Cole invented a convenient way to speak to friends and associates without personalized responses written to each person. He also recognized the business aspect of Christmas through the sale of the cards.

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