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First Christmas Card

1843 - the first Christmas card was produced by Sir Henry Cole.

The custom of sending Christmas cards is now so well established that it is surprising to discover that is is only about one hundred years old. Christmas cards became accepted, in the 1870s. Other early forerunners were the Christmas greetings children brought home from school, done in the best handwriting on decorated paper, to present to proud parents. traders would also leave specially decorated visiting cards at Christmas.

Sir Henry Cole, an Englishman was credited with the idea of the first Christmas card. Cole was the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He was a businessman with a keen interest in art. In December 1843 he found he had little time to write individual Christmas greetings to his friends, so he decided to produce a printed card. The artist John Calcott Horsley drew a design which Cole approved and so the first Christmas card was born. It had a picture of a family enjoying the festivities, with two side panel showing acts of charity. One thousand of the cards were printed and sold for a shilling each. 

The ideas was not an overnight success. But advances in the color printing process and the introduction of the halfpenny post for cards in the 1870s meant that Christmas cards started to gain widespread popularity in England. By 1880 the Post office was having to broadcast its annual advice " Post Early for Christmas" familiar to those who live in Great Britain.



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