Christmas Cards-The History of a Fading Tradition
Collette Cameron here today, and I’m wandering down nostalgia lane a bit. A Christmas card from my cousins who lost their father right after Thanksgiving this year started my ruminations.
I used to be one of those people who sent out dozens and dozens of Christmas cards sometime during the first week of December. A few years into married life, after the kids came along, I added a humorous holiday letter. In recent years, I’ve noticed a distinct trickling off of cards we receive due to both rising postage costs as well as the increasing popularity of Ecards. I’ve twitched to ecards myself now, though I fought the transition, and I still love receiving Christmas cards.
The very first commercial Christmas card originated in England and was the brain-child of Sir Henry Cole. In 1843, he convinced an artist friend, John Horsley, to create that first, elaborate three paneled card, which was sold for a shilling. The image above is a replica of the card that started such a popular tradition.
Postage was expensive (the recipient initially paid) and only the wealthy regularly used the postal service until the invention of the ‘Penny Post’ in 1840 (Not to be confused with the London Penny Post invented in 1630). The Penny Black was the World’s First Postage Stamp. See the image to the right.
Cards were mass-produced from 1860 onward as printing became more economical. The introduction of the halfpenny postage in 1870 further spurred the industry. Cards in unsealed envelopes (rather like our postcards today) were eligible for the reduced postage, and the popularity of sending and receiving cards saw another dramatic increase.
My favorite vintage Christmas cards and postcards are from the Victorian Era, but not all of them appeal. The Victorians’ sense of humor was a bit different than ours, so dead birds, rather frightening snowmen, and even insects were common Christmas themes.
If you celebrate the holidays, do you send cards? Which kind? Paper or ecards?
Brette: Intentions Gone Astray, Conundrums of the Misses Culpepper, Book 3,
is available for pre-order, just in time for the holiday!
A rogue turned rector thought his adventures were over… Until a precocious, petite debutante bursts headlong into his life.
He thought his adventures were over…
A rogue reluctantly turned rector, Alexander Hawksworth, prefers soirées to sermons and parties to prayers. Though impoverished, he seizes every opportunity to escape parish duties, preferring to hob nob with London’s finest–especially after the precocious and petite Brette Culpepper arrives in Town. Alex secretly fantasizing about claiming the breathtaking beauty as his very own, and when he unexpectedly inherits an earldom, he’s determined to make her his countess… Until he’s accused of murdering the previous earl.
Then she burst headlong into his life…
New to Society, Brette adores the whirlwind social scene, the stream of invitations… the slightly-sensual verbal sparring with the devilishly attractive, much too witty, and oh so unsuitable Mr. Hawksworth. But her fairy tale existence crashes to a halt when rumors circulate she’s a peer’s illegitimate granddaughter. Even though he’s left her a tidy inheritance, formerly hospitable doors slam in her face as a newly appointed guardian emerges, intent on stealing her wealth and forcing her to wed an elderly despot.
Time is against them as Alex struggles to clear his name and deliver the woman he loves from an unthinkable fate.
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Click the image below or here: The Regency Rose