Sunday, 14 December 2008

The First Christmas Cards

Christmas cards began with a lazy aristocrat and publisher Sir Henry Cole. In 1843 he sent some cards with a short message instead of the common practice of the time of writing seasonal messages on calling cards or in personal letters to relatives and friends. The recipients of his cards were insulted because it seemed they didn’t warrant the usual full and affectionate Christmas letter. Church authorities and temperance adherents also objected because some cards showed members of family groups drinking wine and jolly citizens brandishing brandy glasses . Soon Cole was selling them for a shilling each but they didn’t take off until later in the century when they cost up to five guineas a piece. By 1870 The Times was denouncing them as a “social evil”. But the Christmas card habit was now established.

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