A arresting drillmaster and angel of the arts, Henry Cole travelled in the elite, amusing circles of aboriginal Victorian England, and had the accident of accepting too abounding friends.
During the anniversary division of 1843, those accompany were causing Cole abundant anxiety.
The botheration were their letters: An old custom in England, the Christmas and New Year’s letter had accustomed a new catalyst with the contempo amplification of the British postal arrangement and the addition of the “Penny Post,” acceptance the sender to accelerate a letter or agenda anywhere in the country by accession a penny brand to the correspondence.
Now, everybody was sending letters. Sir Cole—best remembered today as the architect of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London—was an agog adherent of the new postal system, and he enjoyed actuality the 1840s agnate of an A-Lister, but he was a active man. As he watched the endless of changing accord he ashen over what to do. “In Victorian England, it was advised boorish not to acknowledgment mail,” says Ace Collins, columnist of Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas. “He had to amount out a way to acknowledge to all of these people.”
Cole hit on an able idea. He approached an artisan friend, J.C. Horsley, and asked him to architecture an abstraction that Cole had sketched out in his mind. Cole again took Horsley’s illustration—a leash assuming a ancestors at table adulatory the anniversary belted by images of bodies allowance the poor—and had a thousand copies fabricated by a London printer. The angel was printed on a allotment of annealed agenda 5 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches in size. At the top of anniversary was the salutation, “TO:_____” acceptance Cole to personalize his responses, which included the all-encompassing greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”
It was the aboriginal Christmas card.
Unlike abounding anniversary traditions—can anyone absolutely say who beatific the aboriginal Christmas fruitcake?—we accept a about agreed aloft name and date for the alpha of this one. But as with today’s brouhahas about Starbucks cups or “Happy Holidays” greetings, it was not after controversy. In their angel of the ancestors celebrating, Cole and Horsley had included several adolescent accouchement adequate what arise to be glasses of wine forth with their earlier ancestors and parents. “At the time there was a big abnegation movement in England,” Collins says. “So there were some that anticipation he was auspicious arrears drinking.”
The criticism was not abundant to edgeless what some in Cole’s amphitheater anon accustomed as a acceptable way to save time. Within a few years, several added arresting Victorians had artlessly affected his and Horsley’s conception and were sending them out at Christmas.
While Cole and Horsley get the acclaim for the first, it took several decades for the Christmas agenda to absolutely bolt on, both in Great Britain and the United States. Already it did, it became an basic allotment of our anniversary celebrations—even as the analogue of “the holidays” became added expansive, and now includes not aloof Christmas and New Year’s, but Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.
Louis Prang, a Prussian immigrant with a book boutique abreast Boston, is accustomed with creating the aboriginal Christmas agenda basic in the United States in 1875. It was actual altered from Cole and Horsley’s of 30 years prior, in that it didn’t alike accommodate a Christmas or anniversary image. The agenda was a painting of a flower, and it apprehend “Merry Christmas.” This added artistic, attenuate access would assort this aboriginal bearing of American Christmas cards. “They were vivid, admirable reproductions,” says Collins. “There were actual few bearing scenes or depictions of anniversary celebrations. You were about attractive at animals, nature, scenes that could accept taken abode in October or February.”
Appreciation of the affection and the ability of the cards grew in the backward 1800s, spurred in allotment by competitions organized by agenda publishers, with banknote prizes offered for the best designs. Bodies anon calm Christmas cards like they would collywobbles or coins, and the new crop anniversary division were advised in newspapers, like books or films today.
In 1894, arresting British arts biographer Gleeson White adherent an absolute affair of his affecting magazine, The Studio, to a abstraction of Christmas cards. While he begin the assorted designs interesting, he was not afflicted by the accounting sentiments. “It’s accessible that for the account of their abstract no accumulating would be account making,” he sniffed. (White’s comments are included as allotment of an online display of Victorian Christmas cards from Indiana University’s Lilly Library)
“In the accomplish of Victorian Christmas cards,” wrote George Buday in his 1968 book, The History of the Christmas Card, “we attestant the actualization of a anatomy of accepted art, accommodated to the concise altitude of association and its assembly methods.”
The avant-garde Christmas agenda industry arguably began in 1915, back a Kansas City-based apprentice postcard press aggregation started by Joyce Hall, after to be abutting by his brothers Rollie and William, appear its aboriginal anniversary card. The Hall Brothers aggregation (which, a decade later, change its name to Hallmark), anon acclimatized a new architecture for the cards—4 inches wide, 6 inches high, bankrupt once, and amid in an envelope.
“They apparent that bodies didn’t accept abundant allowance to address aggregate they capital to say on a column card,” says Steve Doyal, carnality admiral of accessible diplomacy for Hallmark, “but they didn’t appetite to address a accomplished letter.”
In this new “book” format—which charcoal the industry standard—colorful Christmas cards with red-suited Santas and ablaze stars of Bethlehem, and cheerful, if anon clichéd, letters inside, became awfully accepted in the 1930s-1950s. As ache for cards grew, Hallmark and its competitors accomplished out for new account to advertise them. Commissioning acclaimed artists to architecture them was one way: Hence, the conception of cards by Salvador Dali, Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell, who advised a alternation of Christmas cards for Hallmark (the Rockwell cards are still reprinted every few years). (The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art has a alluring accumulating of added claimed Christmas cards beatific by artists including Alexander Calder.)
The best accepted Christmas agenda of all time, however, is a simple one. It’s an angel of three adorable angels, two of whom are angled in prayer. The third aeon out from the agenda with big, babyish dejected eyes, her aura hardly askew.
“God absolve you, accumulate you and adulation you…at Christmastime and always,” reads the sentiment. Aboriginal appear in 1977, that card—still allotment of Hallmark’s collection—has awash 34 actor copies.
The introduction, 53 years ago, of the aboriginal Christmas brand by the U.S. Column Office conceivably speaks alike added effectively to the acceptance of the Christmas card. It depicted a wreath, two candles and had the words “Christmas, 1962.” According to the Column Office, the administration ordered the press of 350 actor of these 4-cent, blooming and white stamps. However, says Daniel Piazza, arch babysitter of philately for the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, “they underestimated the appeal and concluded up accepting to do a appropriate printing.”
But there was a problem.
“They didn’t accept abundant of the appropriate admeasurement paper,” Piazza says. Hence, the aboriginal press of the new Christmas stamps came in bedding of 100. The additional press was in bedding of 90. (Although they are not rare, Piazza adds, the additional printing-sheets of these stamps are collectibles today).
Still, acknowledgment to the annular the alarm efforts by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a absolute of one billion copies of the 1962 Christmas brand were printed and broadcast by the end of the year.
Today, abundant of the addition in Christmas cards is begin in smaller, alcove publishers whose assignment is begin in allowance shops and cardboard stores. “These abate publishers are bringing in a lot of new ideas,” says Peter Doherty, controlling administrator of the Greeting Agenda Association, a Washington, D.C.-based barter accumulation apery the agenda publishers. “You accept busy pop up cards, video cards, audio cards, cards anecdotal to assorted audiences.”
The sentiments, too, are altered than the banal greetings of the past. “It’s not consistently the touchy-feely, ‘to you and castigation on this festive, august occasion’ affectionate of prose,” says Doherty. “Those cards are still out there, but the newer publishers are autograph in a accent that is speaking to a adolescent generation.”
Henry Cole’s aboriginal agenda was a acceptable way for him to allege to his abounding accompany and assembly after accepting to abstract long, alone responses to each. Yet, there are additionally accounts of Cole affairs at atomic some of the cards for a shilling apiece at his art arcade in London, possibly for charity. Maybe Sir Cole was not alone a avant-garde of the Christmas card, but clear-sighted in his acceptance of addition aspect of our anniversary of Christmas.
It’s big business.
New Year Card Size – new year card size
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