Christmas... a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
-- Charles Dickens
Ever since the invention of printing and engraving it has been possible to send Christmas greetings in the form of postcards and more elaborate Christmas cards.
The prize for the first Christmas Card goes to England. Initially they were New Year cards, but gradually it became the custom to combine Christmas and New Years in the seasonal greetings.
By the nineteenth century, all purpose cards were printed on which the sender could fill in the name of the recipient, the occasion, a short greeting and signature.
An Englishman named Henry Cole got an idea. In 1843, he commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to design the first Christmas Card.
The first card did not take the world by storm, the second was not designed until five years later. by W. M. Egley.
It was not until the 1860s, after the development of color printing had made the cards less expensive, that the custom of sending Christmas Cards really took off.
A leading authority on Christmas Cards in Victorian times possessed a collection of cards that in 1894 weighed between six and seven tons and numbered more than 163,000 varieties. Considering that the collection was far from complete, it gives you an idea of the growth of the Christmas-card business in England at that time.
The custom was slower to catch on in the United States. The father of the American christmas card was Louis Prang - a German immigrant who founded a small lithography business in Roxbury near Boston.
The cards were more expensive than the European cards, but also more exquisite.
Today millions or Christmas cards are printed each year in the United States alone, and the Scandinavian countries are participating too.
Seasonal greetings - Christmas greetings - are an age-old custom, and a lovely, warming one.
The spirit of Christmas past shines through in this delightful full-color collection.
Twenty-four vintage postcards reproduced directly from rare originals, evoke a time of wistful and eager children and old-fashioned holiday cheer.