The Christmas Card

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Did you know who invented the Christmas card and where?  It was invented by Sir Henry Cole, way back in 1843, in London. 

Sir Henry Cole was also in charge of the postal system, he was behind the construction of Albert Hall and the Great Exhibition in 1851.  The people of London believed Henry Cole wanted to improve what the public would view – what surrounded them – he believed in Art – and the beauty of art would be shared in many ways – now as a Christmas card – his belief, finding joy as it entered the home of loved ones and friends.

Sir Henry Cole had to have been influenced by the Valentine Day Card began nearly a century before his invention.  Also those who wrote in verse believed they could add just the right words for each card he created.

collection-of-christmas-cardsOne outstanding step this man made was through the schools, he wanted the boys and girls to create what he called “Christmas Pieces” which would send private greetings to their parents, and molded together gave the teachers a taste of art and writing in the schools.

The children had larges sheets where they wrote copperplate Christmas wishes which were designed with beautiful borders and colored headings.  He did employ a well known artist at the time to design the picture of the first Christmas Card – still in existence – it was the medieval artistic form of a triptych – actually consisting of a set of three illustrations.  It displayed a great party with adults, playtime with children who had plenty of food and drink – and the common saying – “a merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.”

History has it – Cole did this to celebrate the season, not for his own profit or gain.  Unfortunately, his love of art and the Christmas card would not catch on until 1860, when big profits were made through stationary firms and thousands of Christmas cards were purchased.  Three decades later the British printers of their day were jumping on the designs and came up with 163,000 different cards –  it is now a collection in 700 volumes.

Cole passed on in 1882, so he had to have been delighted that his idea made the market place.  I wonder – if the first card maker on the web will be remembered like Cole?  Christmas cards are becoming scarce, and Cole must be rolling over in his grave as the hands on Christmas card is phased out.  Seldom do we send cards to a huge list of people, and string them from room to room – adding to the decorations of the seasons – seasons of the past.

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