World's First Christmas Card

The image below 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 made them a luxury item, unavailable to the working class.

This advert for the card appeared in the Athenaeum paper:

"Just published. A Christmas Congratulation Card: or picture emblematical of Old English Festivity to Perpetuate kind recollections between Dear Friends."

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.

Illustration
The world's first Christmas card

The world's first Christmas card


You may also be interested in...

Catalogue

Catalogue

Search our wide-ranging collections catalogue online

Find more than 100,000 objects and records online, including philatelic items, vehicles and archives.


 

Postal Reform

Postal Reform

A must for those with an interest in Victorian philately

An insight into the period leading to the issue of the Penny Black and the Mulready Covers in 1840.


 

Stamps & Philately

Stamps & Philately

Explore our world class collection of stamps and postal history

We care for a range of material including registration sheets, metal dies, plates, and modern stamp artwork.


 


Forward To A Friend

Close
*required
*required
*required
*required
 
 

Basket

Number of items: 0
Total price: £0.00
 

 
 
Mind Unit - websites, content management and email marketing for the arts