The first Christmas card

Original italien version: La stampa del primo biglietto di Natale

At Christmas, thousands of people send and receive greeting cards every year. When and where were the first cards produced?

The first New Year greeting card  was written by a German student for his teacher, in 1475:

“Herzlichen Glückwunsch! Professor!”

Exchange greetings became a habit amongst students and professors throughout the sixteenth century for New Year’s Eve. At the end of the eighteenth century, greetings involved the Christmas period and  people all over the university context. Greetings were written by hand on paper and was delivered in person. Very personalized!

Then new printing technologies produced decorated papers and best wishes began to be surrounded by decorations.

[header_line]The first mass produced Christmas card was produced in London in 1843.[/header_line]

Sir Henry Cole, a writer-journalist of that time, asked his friend, artist John Horsley, to paint a beautiful picture to represent the meaning of Christmas. Horsley drew pictures in watercolour to represent: love, family, party, good food. The painting was very innovative.

Horsley made a rectangular postcard, lithographed on card and hand-colored. The design was divided into three parts. In the central part a family celebrated the Christmas, while on both sides there were scenes of Christmas charity. The space for the recipient  and sender was on the top.

The illustration included the sentence “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” which is very  famous and popular to this day.

The postcard was printed in 1,000 copies, with a cost of one shilling each one (very expensive for that time). It was Sir Cole’s strategy to create a new business opportunity.

Queen Victoria , who reigned England from 1837 to 1901, liked the idea of the Christmas cards and began to send those cards to family and friends. Thanks of her, the nineteenth century was the period when the fashion of sending precious cards exploded among the noble and rich people.

[header_line]But it wasn`t until 20 years after that the postcards began to spread. [/header_line]

Printing costs caused the delay. Until the introduction of the process of chromolithograph, in 1860, the production of illustrated cards were very expensive, as well as the postal rates. The first “popular” greeting card was created in 1870 by an English engraver, John S. Day. In the early twentieth century, the greeting cards gained the most success with artists such as Italian Duovich creating beautiful designs for them.

[header_line]Greeting cards today [/header_line]

Even today, this type of note remains a strong symbol of communication. Despite the new technology (i.e. e-cards), greeting cards are the best method to communicate love to friends, relatives and acquaintances.

I personally believe that printed cards touch the heart of the recipient.  It always happens to me.

I often write postcards. It is my way to get through my style, my impression, my “fingerprints”, my signature. A true identity card of my personality.

Actually the challenge of new technologies is to transmit your true thought, authetically. New technologies can`t conserve the essence of tradition and to recreate the excitement of handwriting.