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history of christmas cards

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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 of those cards and boxed sets. Despite how easy it is to send internet Christmas e-cards, posting cards in the mail continue to be popular.

Maybe you 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 cardboard. 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 2001, a Christmas card was sold for $28,158 (Β£20,000) at auction in Devizes in the UK. It was in fact, one sent by the very same Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843. It was one of the very first Christmas greeting cards and the most expensive ever since.

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“. And all because of a visit to the Vienna Exposition in 1873 where he handed out decorated business card featuring flowers. When he gave it to one 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, making him a household name for years to come!

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.

Three angels appear on Hallmark’s most popular card ever. 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 since sold 34 million copies.

The card has the words, “God bless you, keep you and love you…at Christmastime and always.” Hallmark still sells 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.

Still need to send your Christmas cards?

Sometimes the hardest thing isn’t choosing a good looking card, but finding the right words. Discover five perfect ideas for Christmas wishes with quotes you can copy here. Or head to the MyPostcard app, where you can personalize your card and use past free quotes into your Christmas card to edit as you wish.

Looking for more Christmas inspiration..?