Continuing my Christmas Tradition series, today we will look at the history behind Christmas greeting cards.
Greeting cards were originally created by the Chinese celebrating the New Year. In those ancient times, they were sent primarily by the ruling classes. Later, ancient Egyptians also sent greeting cards.
A postal service called the Penny Post began in London, England in 1680. It was affordable enough that ordinary people could send mail within 10 miles of the city. The Penny Post was highly successful and the idea caught on.
In the US, Benjamin Franklin initiated the forerunner of the US Postal Service in 1792. Before long, postal delivery became widespread, making it possible for people to send cards and letters worldwide.
With the postal services in place, the first commercially available Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843.
Cole’s credentials included writing children's books, designing the world’s first stamp, inventing a prize winning teapot, and he was the founder of the Victoria and Albert museum in London. If you’re not familiar with his name, you may recognize him by his nickname – “Old King Cole,” as he was affectionately called.
The designer of this first American Christmas card was John Callcot Horsley. Below is what the card looked like, and it was met with a bit of controversy because of the young child sipping wine.
Printing methods improved, and Louis Prang from Germany became known as “the father of the American Christmas Card” as he began massively producing and selling Christmas greetings in the US in the mid 1870’s.
Christmas greetings became more common by this point, and provided ample opportunity for artists, writers, printers, and engravers.
The following cards are by Kate Greenaway, a famous children’s book illustrator. She began her career designing Christmas, New Year, and Valentine cards.
Aren’t they sweet! I love her artwork!
Well, thank you for joining me today as we take a look at the tradition of sending Christmas greetings. Will you also join me in prayer this week for those that are in need of knowing Jesus as their Savior? Let’s pray that they will be drawn to Him this Christmas Season, realize their need, and respond to His calling.