The Christmas card publishing
industry created unheard of opportunities for artists, writers,
printers, and engravers. In 1880 the Christmas card had a new
birth, for it was then that a great London firm offered five
hundred guineas in prizes for the most artistic designs. Many of
the great artists of the day responded with their best ideas.
Kate Greenaway, Walter Crane, and Thomas Crane were among the
many 19th century artists famous for their greeting card
designs. In addition, literary writers saw the opportunity; they
gave to the beauty of the painting the music of their words.
Many well-known writers were not above this profitable work of
creating greeting cards. Thousands of pounds were spent in
finding the right poems and suitable Christmas sentiments, until
at last these Yuletide offerings reached the climax of their
literary and artistic excellence.
An original copy of Horsley’s
Christmas card is considered very rare. The Christmas card
publishers, Messrs De La Rue, reproduced the original design by
chromolithography in 1881; and then copies of this reprint were
issued in 1955 and can still be found today.