Thursday, 25 December 2014

‘May Christmas Mirth Wed New Year Joy’

A hand painted Christmas card almost certainly inspired by Louis Prang, sent in 1908
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
The first Christmas card which wished its recipient a merry Christmas and a happy New Year was sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole the founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Sir Henry was overwhelmed by the task of sending handwritten Christmas greetings to all his friends and family. He commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to paint a card and had the Christmas wish printed on it. The card which depicted two acts of charity was a reminder to his wealthy friends to be generous to those less fortunate at this time of year.

The rise in popularity of the Christmas card was rapid and by the 1880s famous artists and writers were being enticed by substantial prize money to design artwork and compose poems for the Christmas card publishers of the day. However a serious challenger to the card emerged during the 1890s in the form of the Christmas postcard. The postcard was less expensive to send, costing only a penny to post in America.

Christmas postcard, printed in Germany for B.B., London & New York
Handwritten on reverse: ‘From Jessie to Mary with Love,’
Addressed to ‘Mary Stewart, Wharf Street, Tauranga,’ date unknown
Image courtesy of Tauranga Heritage Collection
The Tauranga Heritage Collection has an interesting Christmas card collection with approximately 150 cards that date from the 1870s. Included amongst the publishers of these cards are Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd, Ernest Nister and Louis Prang who is credited with being the father of the modern Christmas card in America.

No comments:

Post a comment