The concept of commercial Christmas cards originated in 1843 with Sir Henry Cole. A very busy businessman, he got behind in his social graces – the art of creating, writing, and mailing holiday wishes to all friends, family, and clients. In effort to keep up, he hired a friend, London artist John Calcott Horsley, to design a card that he could lithograph copies of and send. Horsley printed and hand colored 1,000 copies of this first card, which depicted a happy family helping the poor and celebrating by raising a glass of wine. Some recipients were quite upset by the image of a child drinking from one of the glasses! Still, those cards that Cole did not send were sold for half a shilling (about six cents) in the Felix Summerly Art Shop on Bond Street in London. They were so popular that a tradition was born.
Cole was also instrumental in revamping the English postal system, including the introduction of the self-adhesive stamp (the Penny Black). This, and the advent of the railway system, enabled the general populous to afford to send mail. Before, such a luxury was reserved for only the very wealthy.
In the US, we are blessed with the most efficient and inexpensive postal systems in the world. Joke all you want, but it’s amazing that the USPS processes and delivers between 70,000 – 100,000 pieces of mail each year – and that’s just first class!
If you’d like to design and send your own fabulous Christmas cards – check out Sendoutcards – try and send your first one on me!
Holiday cards are a perfect way to market your business – and it’s so easy!
Hurry! This is the last week that we can expect delivery in time for Christmas!
Written by Mélanie Hope