9 December 1843 – The Day the First Christmas Card was Created

9 December 1843 – The Day the First Christmas Card was Created

It’s that time of year again, when we get out box of Christmas cards and our address book, and start writing cards to those on our Christmas card list this year. There is no doubt that this has become a Christmas tradition right around the world.

But when did this tradition actually start?

Well … way back on 9 December 1843 actually (although some dispute that, and say May 1843). Either way, it is a LONG time ago!

A description online tells us that …

Sir Henry Cole, Director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, found that writing numerous Christmas greetings to friends and colleagues was becoming a time-consuming task. He asked his artist friend, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card which could be used by Cole and also sold to the public. The first Christmas cards were created in England on 9 December 1843. Horsley produced 1,000 lithographed and hand-coloured cards. More like postcards, they sold for a shilling, which was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a labourer. It was another twenty years before Christmas cards became commercially viable for the common man, following the invention of cheaper colour lithography.

The image at the top is one of the “first ever” Christmas card, according to Wikipedia.

And as the cards became affordable, the stationery companies found it profitable, and they certainly haven’t stopped making them since!

While I don’t have any Christmas cards in my family’s heirlooms that date back to 1843, I do have some old, vintage ones that I have scanned and are pictured below (click on each for a larger image). Most of these would be from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, with at least some of them being written by my great grandmother, Ella Alice Randell (nee Sinkinson).

Also as you’ll see, today’s cards don’t match the style of those 100+ years ago. They were so classy back then. Lots of flowers, lots of embossing, and not Christmas tree or Father Christmas in sight.

Christmas card 1 - front

Christmas card 1 – front

Christmas card 1 - inside

Christmas card 1 – inside

Christmas card 1 - back

Christmas card 1 – back

Christmas card 2 - front

Christmas card 2 – front

Christmas card 2 - inside

Christmas card 2 – inside

Christmas card 2 - back

Christmas card 2 – back

Christmas card 3 - front

Christmas card 3 – front

Christmas card 3 - inside

Christmas card 3 – inside

Christmas card 3 - back

Christmas card 3 – back

Christmas card 4 - front

Christmas card 4 – front

Christmas card 4 - inside

Christmas card 4 – inside

Christmas card - back

Christmas card 4 – back

Christmas card 5 - front

Christmas card 5 – front

Christmas card 5 - inside

Christmas card 5 – inside

Christmas card 5 - back

Christmas card 5 – back

Christmas card 6 - front

Christmas card 6 – front

Christmas card 6 - inside

Christmas card 6 – inside

Christmas card 6 - back

Christmas card 6 – back

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