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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Christmas Card

Christmas cards began with a lazy aristocrat and publisher Sir Henry Cole who in 1843 sent cards with a short message instead of the common practice in the early nineteenth century to write seasonal messages on calling cards or in personal letters to relatives and friends. They were insulted because it seemed they didn’t warrant the usual full and affectionate Christmas letter.

Cole's cards were designed by an artist, John Calcott Horsley.  His first Christmas card design had two panels showing people caring for the poor and a center panel of a family having a large Christmas dinner.  About 1,000 of these cards were printed, and those not used by Sir Henry were sold by the printer for one shilling (see below).

John Callcott Horsley was called ‘Clothes Horsley,’ because of his opposition to using nude models.

By 1870 the Christmas card habit was established in the UK. However not all approved - The Times denounced them as a “social evil”.

Church authorities and temperance adherents also objected because some cards showed members of family groups drinking wine and jolly citizens brandishing brandy glasses.

The first Christmas card made in America was basically an advert for a department store. Issued between 1850 and 1852, the card’s seasonal illustrations were buttoned by a mention of Pease’s, a “general variety” store in Albany, New York.

Bavarian-born lithographer Louis Prang settled in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1850s and established a successful printing business.He became well-known during the American Civil War, printing war maps for newspapers. In 1873, Prang invented a way of reproducing color oil paintings, the 'chromolithograph technique', and created a card with the message 'Merry Christmas' as a way of showing it off. He went on to produce a series of popular Christmas cards and by 1881 he was printing more than five million cards annually, earning him the moniker "father of the American Christmas card."

Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, was a collector of Christmas Cards. She accumulated 31 albums dating from 1872 until shortly before her death in 1953.

The first charity Christmas card was produced by UNICEF in 1949. The picture was painted by a seven year old girl called Jitka Samkova of Rudolfo, a small town in what was then Czechoslovakia. The town had received assistance from UNICEF after the Second World War, inspiring Jitka to paint some children dancing around a maypole.

According to Hallmark, the most popular Christmas card of all time, is an image of three cherubic angels, two of whom are bowed in prayer. The third peers out from the card with big, baby blue eyes, looking at the reader. First published in 1977, that card has sold 34 million copies.

Werner Erhard of San Francisco sent 62,824 cards in a single year. This is believed to be the largest number ever sent by one individual..

Christmas cards were on a list of ‘unclean’ items banned by the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US alone.

Sources Tamworth

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