Cards through the decades. A sampling of Christmas cards from 1850’s to the present.
A typical Hallmark card from the late 1910’s. http://ecards.hallmark.com/christmas/ideas/history-of-christmas/
1915 The first Hallmark Christmas card. The story begins when 18-year-old Joyce Clyde Hall stepped off a train in Kansas City, MO, with two shoeboxes of postcards under his arm to sell. Quickly making a name for himself J.C. was joined by his brother and they started the Hall Brothers company in 1910 to sell postcards. On January 11, 1915, a fire destroyed their office and inventory. The fateful fire resulted in the decision to buy printing presses and begin producing their own greeting cards in 1915. http://corporate.hallmark.com/company/Founding-1910’s
1954 Eisenhower official White House Christmas card. http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/eise/President/Presidency/EISE-11385.jpg
First family Christmas card from President Coolidge, 1927. http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-obama-white-house-holiday-card-20131210,0,7268379.story#axzz2tGCzbk19
An early Prang Christmas card: http://mentalfloss.com/article/26650/first-christmas-card-was-sent-1843
First American card by Pease, 1851. http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2012/12/21/printed-in-albany-the-first-christmas-card-and-the
The world's first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card
A simple example. Calling card of Kaiser Wilhelm . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Visiting_Card_of_Kaiser_Wilhelm.jpg
A complex example. Calling card of Beethoven’s brother. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VisitingCardJohannVanBeethoven.jpg
An important part of the holidays is sharing our enjoyment of the season with others in our circle. Not everyone is geographically close, or part of the family, or even within the group we consider “close” friends. But we still want to wish them a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” So we send a greeting in the form of a Christmas card.
President Dwight Eisenhower issued the first official White House Christmas card. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card Eisenhower sent his 1953 holiday card to members of Congress, heads of state, ambassadors and beyond so that the White House holiday reached a wider audience. http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-obama-white-house-holiday-card-20131210,0,7268379.story#axzz2tGCzbk19
1953 The first White House Christmas card. President Coolidge had several Christmas “firsts”. First President to light the official White House Christmas tree, first President to issue an official Christmas message to the public (through the newspapers) and the first President to send out Christmas cards (1927). http://www.loriferber.com/research/white-house-christmas-cards.html But for the most part, these were personal Christmas cards to family, friends, and the White House staff.
1874 The first American Christmas Card by Prang and Mayer. At Christmas in 1873, the lithograph firm of Prang and Mayer began creating greeting cards for the popular market in England. Prang came to America and began selling the Christmas cards in 1874. His success led Louis Prang sometimes being called the “father of the American Christmas card.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card
1851 First American printed Christmas card. Credit for printing the country's first Christmas card usually goes to Boston lithographer Louis Prang, but Prang's card wasn't printed until 1870. There is some indication that Richard H. Pease actually produced the first American Chistmas card. There are no longer any known copies of Pease's first Christmas card in Albany. The only known version of it is in Manchester, England. A collector from England purchased the card and later donated it as part of a collection to the Manchester Metropolitan University. http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2012/12/21/printed-in-albany-the-first-christmas-card-and-the
1840’s The first Royal Family Christmas card. "Official" Christmas cards began with Queen Victoria in the 1840s. The British royal family's cards are generally portraits reflecting significant personal events of the year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card
1843 First commercially produced Christmas card. It is this very problem which confronted Sir Henry Cole in 1843. As an inventor and civil servant Cole felt too busy to make the holiday visiting rounds, and he knew others were too, and so in May of 1843 he commissioned John Callcott Horsley in London to design a special holiday larger “calling card” that could be sent to friends, family, business associates and others. Horsley’s illustration showed three generations of a family raising a toast to the card’s recipient. On either side were scenes of charity, with food and clothing being given to the poor. 2,050 cards were printed. Some were sent by Cole, the rest were sold for a shilling each. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_card
Calling Cards. Before the mid 1800’s, during the holiday season, polite tradition imposed the practice of calling on all of one’s acquaintances, both personal and professional. These obligatory visits could be numerous and inconvenient, and so to absent oneself from these visits one could send a calling card embellished with an expression of best wishes. These calling cards could also be used to announce events or even invite to dinner. http://www.literary-liaisons.com/article026.html