25 December 2011

World’s First Christmas Card…

  Merry Christmas !!



Greetings  to all my Readers on Christmas !! This is  a special post on World’s First Christmas card. I am giving the links of different articles published on World’s First Christmas Card…The card was recently on display in London on 8 December and its replica  could be seen throughout December at British Postal Museum and Archive in London.

First ever Christmas card on display at British Postal Museum and Archive in London

The World’s First Christmas Card is Delivered to Ironbridge

Today greetings cards are an essential part of our Christmas celebrations but the custom of exchanging cards did not start until 1843, another wonderful Christmas tradition we have to thank the Victorians for.

The first Christmas card was sent by Henry Cole, a Civil Servant with a keen interest in art and design. Cole commissioned 1,000 Christmas cards and used those he required before selling the rest for 6d each. This price made the cards a luxury item and something that was unavailable to the working classes.

The card was designed by John C Horsley and was printed lithographically and then hand-coloured. Of the 1,000 printed very few are known to remain in existence.

One of Cole’s original 1843-produced cards, held in the collection of the British Postal Museum and Archive, was on display on  08 December in The Post Office at Blists Hill Victorian Town  Anna Flood, BPMA Archivist, was also on hand to answer questions on the heritage of Christmas cards. Following that, a replica of the card is on display at the Blists Hill Post Office throughout December for everyone to enjoy.   

Anna Flood commented :

“Since opening the Museum of the Post Office in the Community above the historic Post Office at Blists Hill, we have worked closely with the Ironbridge Gorge Museums. There is nowhere better to let people see the world’s first Christmas card than in a Victorian Post Office. We are sure that people will enjoy seeing such a precious object on Thursday and have a greater understanding of the history of Christmas cards by seeing the replica over the rest of December.”

The replica Christmas card will be one of the many highlights during Blists Hill Victorian Town’s Christmas weekends when families can come together and enjoy the preparations for a Victorian Christmas during the weekends of 10-11 and 17-18 December.

The town’s Ironworks will be the setting for Mr Morton’s Christmas Party, an extravaganza of music, singing and stories. Carol singers and brass bands will fill the air with their fabulous festive tunes whilst our culinary expert will rustle up some fantastic seasonal fare in wonderful cooking demonstrations.

Father Christmas will of course be in residence throughout the weekends and children can visit him in his wonderfully decorated Grotto. Don’t forget to say hello to his reindeer before they head off on their mammoth journey around the world on Christmas Eve!

These special Christmas events will take place during the weekends of 10 - 11 and 17 - 18 December when Blists Hill is open from 10am to 4pm. Passport Tickets are not valid for Blists Hill Victorian Town Christmas events. Entry is £14.95 adults, £11.95 for 60 plus, £9.95 children 5- 18 years in full time education and under 5s free. New for 2011 is a family ticket (two adults and two children) at £45. A visit to see Father Christmas is £3.50.

For further information, contact the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk.  The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6). 

Source : The British Museum and Archives


This card, one of 18 cards produced 167 years ago and still known to exist, was auctioned by Sotheby's in 2010 and sold for $7000. This particular card was was sent to a "Miss Rusby" from an "H. Vernon", produced by Sir Henry Cole and published by Summerley’s Home Treasury Office, 12, Old Bond Street, London. [Image from Daily Mail]

John Callcott Horsley (born 1817-- died 1903), a British narrative painter and a Royal Academician, designed the very first Christmas and New Year's card at the request of his friend Sir Henry Cole (the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum). Cole suggested the idea of a specially designed form of greeting to send to friends at Christmas. In 1843 an edition of 1,000 of these Christmas cards were printed and placed on sale in London. They were printed in lithography by Jobbins of Warwick Court, Holborn, London, and hand-colored by a professional "colourer" named Mason. The cards were published under Sir Henry Cole's nom de guerre, "Felix Summerly"—by his friend Joseph Cundall, of New Bond Street.

The Christmas card was lithographed on stiff cardboard, 5 1/8 by 3 1/4 inches, in dark sepia, with a design of a trellis of rustic-work, in the Germanesque style, divided into a center and two side panels. In the panels were figures representing two of the acts of charity, "feeding the hungry" and "clothing the naked."

In the center is a picture of a merry family party, including three generations, grandparents to grandchildren, quaffing draughts of wine. One child is being shown how to consume the wine - while three other children tuck into a plum pudding. Below is the greeting, "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You." The card is marked: "Published at Summerly's Home Treasury Office, 12 Old Bond Street, London." The price was 1s. each.

That was the beginning. But in spite of its ingenuity, the first Christmas card was not an instant success, even bringing about disapproval from the temperance league who feared the card would encourage drunkenness. The following year there were other picture-makers, and the Christmas card was launched on the tide of popular favor; but it was not until the idea had grown out of favor among artistic and literary circles that it was taken up by a business man, Goodall. Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards was one of the first to mass produce Christmas cards and visiting cards. In 1866 Mr. Josiah Goodall commissioned Messrs. Marcus Ward & Co., of Belfast, to lithograph, for his firm, a set of four designs by C. H. Bennett, and in the following year another set by the same artist. These, together with Luke Limner's border design of holly, mistletoe, and robins, may be taken as the forerunners of today’s Christmas card.

Read the whole article

Merry Christmas from Jane Austen’s World With the First Commercial Christmas Card

Jane Austen would not have recognized this Christmas card,  for it was commissioned by Henry Cole in 1843, 26 years after her death and the same year that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. (The British Postal Museum and Archive). Artist John Calcott Horsely designed the card, which shows the poor being fed  and clothed on either side of a classic triptych arrangement. The center of the card depicts a group of people celebrating Christmas and holding up a toast in celebration, including children, which set up a hue and cry with the Temperance Society. The card is about the size of a regular postcard. Prior to 1843 the upper classes would send each other signed calling cards at Christmas, but Coles’s decorative paper Christmas greeting became rapidly popular, and by 1860 Christmas cards had become widespread.





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