The dying art of giving and receiving cards

Christmas cards have been a popular form of seasonal greetings of comparatively recent origin. W.C.T Dobson, RA, is usually regarded as having sent the first Christmas card in 1844. Sir Henry Cole and J.C. Horsley produced the first commercial Christmas card two years later in 1846, although it was condemned by temperance enthusiasts because members of the family group in the center piece of the card were cheerfully drinking wine.

Christmas cards first came widely into fashion when commercial firms began printing them in the 1870s.

There are both mass-produced as well as hand-made versions that are distributed by hundreds of companies large and small. While typically inexpensive; more elaborate cards with die-cuts or glued-on decorations may be more expensive. Hallmark Cards are one of the largest producers of greeting cards in the world.

  • In the United Kingdom, it was once estimated that one billion pounds were spent on greeting cards every year, with the average person sending 55 cards per year.
  • But since then, both the e-card and email letters have quickly surpassed the art of sending and receiving Christmas cards.
  • It is a pity, and it is slowly doing postmen out of a job – but that’s progress for you.

Above are two examples of Christmas cards in the 1970s, 100 years on from the initial rush of card giving in the 1870s. The first was designed by “Joanna” for Phil Taylor Studios and the other with the three red candles was designed by “Romy” for Gordon Fraser cards.

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