The Origin of Christmas Cards

The Origin of Christmas Cards

Ever wondered who invented the Christmas Card? It’s one of those ‘Chrissmassy’ things that we all take for granted but never truly stop and think about. It’s always nice to receive a card from pals and family we don’t see often enough and now they’re often printed on recyclable paper, they’re no longer as big a problem as they once were.

So Priory Press have the know how and processes to print your corporate christmas cards, get in touch to put your orders in for next year. Planning early is the way forward!


So here it is: next time the question of who and when the Christmas Card was invented comes up in the pub quiz you’ll know the answer, right?  As it turns out it’s all a  relatively recent phenomenon, with the sending of commercially printed Christmas cards originating in London in 1843.


Previously, people had exchanged handwritten holiday greetings. First in person. Then via post. The first Christmas card designed for sale was by London artist John Calcott Horsley. A respected illustrator of the day, Horsley was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a wealthy British businessman, who wanted a card he could proudly send to friends and professional acquaintances to wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’. Cole was famous for modernising the British postal system, managed the building of the Albert Hall (but he has his own impressive story). We digress…

The first Christmas card’s inscription read: ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you’.  Of the original one thousand cards printed for Henry Cole, twelve exist today in private collections.

Printed cards soon became the rage in England; then in Germany. But it required an additional thirty years for Americans to take to the idea. In 1875, Boston lithographer Louis Prang, a native of Germany, began publishing cards, and earned the title ‘Father of the American Christmas Card’.

Today more than two billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually, just within the United States. Christmas is the number one card-selling holiday of the year.


file647 Henry-Cole-1st-Christmas-Card