In the years before the 1800’s Christmas cards were produced by hand and exchanged in person. As the mail system began to develop and become more reliable people began sending them to friend’s families and relatives across the country. Many post offices were burdened by the seasonal surge in work and had to hire temporary part time help.
Commercially printed Christmas Cards first appeared in London in 1843 and were produced by Sir Henry Cole. He was a very active socially and owning and running businesses in his community at the time. He owned an art shop and had Christmas Cards printed that year to send to his family and business associates. The First cards had scenes of people helping to clothe and feed the needy people of the day. The cards featured the message ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you’. At the time the word ‘Merry’ was a holy word. Today over 150 years later 12 original cards still exist owned by private collectors.
Christmas Cards didn’t become popular in the United States until 1875 when Henry Prang began printing them. Prang however never completely understood the market place, instead of featuring religious themes on his cards, he featured flowers, trees and shrubs on his Christmas Cards. Other merchants capitalized on his mistake and Henry Prang was bankrupt in 1890.
Today Christmas is the most popular Card sending holiday followed by Valentines Day. Each year over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent by people across the United States.
Photo credit: WordRidden