Tuesday, December 14, 2010

World’s first commercial Christmas card

This image is of the world’s first commercial Christmas card. It was commissioned by Henry Cole in 1843, the same year Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol.

Henry Cole was a lifelong civil servant with a great interest in art and design. Henry Cole worked under Rowland Hill between 1837 and 1840 as they worked to introduce the universal Penny Postage and the first postage stamp, the Penny Black. Cole later played a key role in organising the Great Exhibition of 1851.

1,000 of these Christmas cards were printed, and Cole used as many as he required before selling the rest for 6d (sixpence) each. This price that made them a luxury item, unavailable to the working class.

The card was designed by John C Horsley. It was printed lithographically and then hand-coloured. Although 1,000 were printed, very few are known to remain in existence. One example was sold in December 2005 for £8,500.


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