Sir Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card in 1843. He was Assistant Keeper of the Post Office (Public Record Office as it was then) and was looking for a way to get ordinary people to use the service.
With his artist friend John Horsley, they designed the card and sold around 1,000 copies of it for a shilling each (5 pence in today’s money).
The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the centre panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner. The original cards were advertised with the slogan: “Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends!”
As printing methods improved, Christmas cards became more popular and were produced in large numbers from about 1860. In 1870, the cost of sending cards dropped from a penny to half a penny. This meant even more people were able to send cards.
By the early 1900s, the custom of sending Christmas cards had spread across Europe and had become especially popular in Germany. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today. The rhymes inside Christmas cards are popular, with some people considering their meaning, whilst others simply pick the prettiest picture or funniest joke.
Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, sent the first known ‘personalised’ Christmas card in 1891. She was in Glasgow, Scotland and sent cards back to her friends and family in the USA featuring a photo of her dressed in tartan.
With more consideration given to the environment, and the price of cards and postage rising, people tend to send digital cards nowadays or in some cases not send any at all, instead donating their money to charity.
Digital cards give you the opportunity to personalise the card and a great way is to put in your own rhyme – which can be sweet, funny or even risqué (not that we’d suggest you do that!).
Here’s an ‘unofficial’ rhyme from CLC World to all our members, guests and blog readers:
I’ve written a letter to Santa,
I sent it first class, you know,
Telling him of all the places
In the next year I’d like to go. [more]
With very good advice,
“Call up CLC World”, said he,
“They’ll get you there in a trice.”
Now why didn’t I think of that?
I picked up the phone and dialled the number,
A smiley voice asked if I was a member.
“I am,” I cried, “and I’d like to book
Some holidays for next year.” “Let’s take a look.”
And so it is, I’m packing my bags
With t-shirts, shorts and some glad rags.
This time it’s a cruise, next a safari
And in India, I’ll be wearing a sari.
I’ve got a weekend down in Cornwall,
Sailing the Med aboard a yacht,
A cheeky break in Austria,
And for now, yes, that’s the lot!
Thank you, Father Christmas,
And thanks to CLC World
For helping me explore the globe;
My wanderlust’s uncurbed.