The Very First Christmas Card

The first Greeting cards were not Christmas Cards or the Valentines; it was the New Years Card.

The first Christmas card sent was in 1843, it was the last card published for 19 years. Why, you may ask? It showed a family including a small boy drinking out of a wine goblet. Now what I would like to know is how they knew that it was wine in the goblet, it was printed in black on white paper then hand colored. I think the artist was having too much fun with his paintbrush and perhaps “he” had too much wine. Nevertheless, it was condemned for promoting drunkenness. They just look like they are having a great time to me.

To see a photo of the first Christmas card please visit:
The first Christmas card: John Calcott Horsley designed the first Christmas card.

He was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole who in 1843 was too busy to write to his friends as usual over the festive season. Printed in black and white and then colored by hand, 1,000 cards were produced for “Old King” Cole, with the leftovers sold off by the printer.

The design showed a happy family raising a festive glass as a toast to the recipient. Sadly, un-festive critics condemned the design – for promoting drunkenness.

The Christmas card then went into hibernation until 1862, when printers Charles Goodall came up with minimalist designs consisting of the words “A Merry Christmas”. Robins were added later, followed by holly and afterwards Little Red Riding Hood. After that it was downhill all the way: Wise Men, mangers, snowmen.

The backlash by real-life Scrooges began in 1871, with the first newspaper article asserting that the deluge of cards was delaying “legitimate correspondence”. Another Yuletide milestone was passed in 1873 when the Times personal column ran the first ad apologizing for “not sending Christmas cards this year”. And it was 120 years ago that the Post Office first begged us to “post early for Christmas”, but we still don’t.

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