December 21st, 2010
Having just finished writing out my final Christmas card, I am inspired to share the following notes on the history of this delightful (if time consuming) custom.
This is an image of the Christmas card created by Englishman John Callcot Horsely in 1843. The relatively modest run of 1,000 lithographed cards were hand colored. It is generally believed to be the first commercially produced Christmas card. The perfection of lithography and the invention of chromolithography (with color) in the first half of the 19th century was largely responsible for the development of holiday greeting cards; in the 1850s, Esther Howland of Boston began producing the first Valentine’s Day cards.
Seems that Boston was a hotbed of greeting cards. Louis Prang, late of that city, introduced the first line of American made Christmas cards in the 1870s. I’m pretty sure this is one of his cards. It’s a whole new side of Santa Claus, and I’m admittedly tickled by it.