Today is…Christmas Card Day
Christmas cards, and the man who is credited with coming up with the concept for a commercial Christmas card, Sir Henry Cole, are celebrated today. Because he didn’t have time to write all his family and friends at Christmas time, Cole, a worker at the Public Records Office in London, commissioned artist John Calcott Horsley to design a card for him, which Horsley did while living at Orestone Manor, near Torquay, in the United Kingdom. This first card, created in 1843, had a picture of a family celebrating Christmas together while drinking, flanked by images of people giving food and clothing to the needy. Below, the phrase “A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU” was inscribed. As the cards worked well for Cole, he had a thousand of them printed, which were sold for a shilling each, making them the first mass produced Christmas cards. In 2001, one of the original cards, which was signed by Cole himself, fetched over $30,000 at auction. It is believed that about a dozen of the original cards survive today. One of them can be viewed at the National Art Library inside of the Victoria and Albert Museum, a museum where Henry Cole was the first director.
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