Sending Christmas Cards.
At the end of the winter term, schoolmasters would set their pupils to work on Christmas Pieces, samplers of writing on superior paper with engraved borders, to show parents how they had progressed during the year. By about 1820, the engraved borders were enhanced with color and the children’s pieces became more decorative.
However, the custom of sending cards at Christmas was started in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. Postage had been standardized three years earlier and Cole was a civil servant who had played a key role in initiating Uniform Penny Post. He wanted ordinary people to become more interested in the new ‘Public Post Office’. With his artist friend John Horsley, they designed the first card which was issued from a periodical, Felix Summerley’s Home Treasury, and were sold for 1 shilling each.
The card was lithographed, hand-colored, had three panels and was in a rustic frame of carved wood and ivy. The outer two panels showed people caring for the hungry and the naked. The centre panel showed a family of three generations having Christmas dinner, although the temperate classes strongly objected to the idea of a child being given a glass of wine with dinner.
New railways carried more post, and a lot faster, than a horse and carriage so the Post Office offered a Penny stamp. Cards became even more popular when they could be posted in an unsealed envelope for one halfpenny. Christmas cards became truly popular when printing improved and cards could be produced in large numbers, around 1860. By the early 1900s, the custom had spread over Europe and especially in Germany.
Early cards usually pictured Nativity scenes, but in the late Victorian times, robins and snow-scenes became popular because the postmen wore red uniforms and were nicknamed ‘Robin Postmen’. Snow-scenes were also popular because they were a reminder of the very bad winter of 1836.
Snow scenes reflected the snowy and often harsh northern hemisphere winters when opening and reading Christmas cards was an enjoyable family experience. In 1860, Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards, began mass producing cards to be used for visits during the Christmas period. These Christmas and New Year’s visiting cards were decorated with simple designs such as a twig of holly or flowers.
Sales of cards grew and designs and sizes changed. The first cards were meant to appeal to the masses and encourage them to send large numbers by post, so rather than focus on religious images, they showed sentimental or humorous images of family and children, fanciful designs of flowers, fairies, or reminders of the approach of spring. Religious themes of nativity scenes, children looking at the manger, or angels and candles remain popular to the modern day.
Cards could be shaped like bells, a fan, a crescent, a circle, or a diamond and were folding, decorated with jewels, iridescent, embossed, and carried either simple Christmas and New Year greetings or had verses and carols written in them. The next year, Mr W.C.T. Dobson produced a sketch symbolizing the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ which sold many more than the previous thousand and the novelty caught on.
Many artists became famous for their annual illustrations that became postcards and cards. Printing technology became more advanced in the age of industrialisation and the price of card production dropped. With the introduction of the halfpenny postage rate, the Christmas card industry industry increased until in 1880 11.5 million cards were produced.Christmas Card History #Christmas #holidays #Traditions #Customs #VictorianEra https://books2read.com/suziloveHOCP Click To Tweet