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Who Invented and Designed the First Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are greeting cards, usually sent to friends and family, to convey best wishes for the holiday season. There are thousands of different designs, from those with religious themes to generic cards with no reference to Christmas at all. It is traditional for Christmas cards to be sent in the weeks prior to the holiday and it is estimated that approximately 2 billion cards are sent during this period in the United States each year. This tradition became popular in the 19th century when the first commercial Christmas cards became available and continues today. Let’s find out who invented this popular type of greeting card.

Who Invented the Christmas card?
The first commercially available Christmas card was invented by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. He is also credited with the idea of sending greeting cards to people at Christmas. Cole wanted to develop a holiday card that he could send to his friends.

Cole hired John Callcott Horsley to design the first card, which featured a family drinking wine together, on May 1, 1843. Just over 2,000 were printed that year and they were sold for a shilling per card. These cards became quite popular in the following years and the Christmas card tradition was born. The following is a Horsley’s design for the first card.
The first Christmas Card as designed by John Callcott Horsley.

Introduction to America
The first American printed Christmas cards were printed by Louis Prang in 1874 (although he first created cards in 1873 for the English market). These cards became so popular that many imitations came onto the market and he had to pull out of the market. Prang is commonly known as the “father of the American Christmas card.”

Did you know?
The early Christmas cards in England didn’t usually feature religious or holiday themes. Instead, the cards focused on the coming month of spring!

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