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In America, we spend over $7 billion on about 6.5 billion greetings cards every year. Christmas Cards account for 1.6 billion cards and boxed sets. Even though we can easily send internet Christmas e-cards, posted cards continue to be popular.

You may send lots of Christmas cards to friends and family but how much do you know about how they started and their history. Who invented Christmas cards? When were Christmas cards first sent?

Read on to learn 5 cool facts about the history of Christmas cards.

History of Christmas Cards #1
The First Christmas Card

Sir Henry Cole, one of the founders of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, was also the originator of the Christmas card. He worked as an assistant to Rowland Hill, who established the uniform penny post. The new postal system made sending letters so popular that Sir Henry was receiving lots of mail.

He hit upon a solution to replying to all those unanswered letters. In 1843, Sir Henry had his friend, John Calcott Hosley, design a card which he then had printed on to a stiff board. The cards had the standard greeting, “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”

History of Christmas Cards #2
The Most Expensive Christmas Card

In November 2000, a Christmas card was sold for $28,158. It was one sent by Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843. It was one of the very first Christmas greeting cards.

The card features a family having Christmas dinner. Around the edge are scenes of charitable acts. It was controversial at the time of its first printing because the children in the scene are apparently drinking wine.

History of Christmas Cards #3
The American Christmas Card

Louise Prang is sometimes known as “the Father of the American Christmas Card“. He visited the Vienna Exposition in 1873 with a decorated business card featuring flowers. When he gave it to his British agent’s wife, she suggested that he add a Christmas greeting.

The next year he sold them in Britain. The following year he sold them in the USA. From a modest start in Boston, his business grew to 5 million cards a year in the USA.

History of Christmas Cards #4
Kansas City Is the Home of Hallmark

In 1910 a postcard seller, Joyce Clyde Hall founded the huge greetings card company, Hallmark. He started the business in Kansas, Missouri with two boxes of postcards. The business now has sales of $3.7 billion.

The grandsons of J.C. Hall now lead the Hallmark business. Don and Dave Hall now oversee a business empire that includes TV and movies, crayons and of course, greetings cards.

History of Christmas Cards #5
Hallmark’s Most Popular Christmas Card

Three angels appear on Hallmark’s most popular card. Two are in prayer and the third looks out of the card at the viewer with big blue eyes. The card originated in 1977 and has sold 34 million copies.

The card has the words, “God bless you, keep you and love you…at Christmastime and always.” Hallmark still sell this card and it has an enduring appeal.

The History of Christmas Cards

The appeal of Christmas cards doesn’t seem to be waning despite the internet and social media. The history of Christmas cards is one of constant change and they may change with customization being a major factor. They will always be a feature of the holiday season.

For more ideas about festive greetings cards, click here.