Christmas Greeting Cards

Illustrated History of Christmas Greeting Cards


CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

Although the first commercial Christmas greeting card was made in Britain in the 1840s, it was not until 20 years later that the christmas greeting cards business was established. In the Victorian era when a person paid a formal call on a friend, it was customary to leave  visiting cards, or greeting cards, as a reminder of the visit. These cards were typically small, about 2 by 3 inches. In 1860, Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards, began mass producing cards designed especially for visits at Christmas. These Christmas and New Year's visiting cards, were the forerunners of Christmas greeting cards and were decorated with simple designs such as a twig of holly or flowers.

 

Vintage Greeting Cards

Today, the most collectible Christmas greeting cards are those printed between 1860 and the 1890s in England and America. During this time period, Christmas greeting cards were printed in lithography, a process which beautifully reproduced the colorful paintings created by the popular artists of the second half of the 19th century.

Christmas greeting cards were distributed mainly in book sellers and stationery shops until the early 1880s. At this time, Christmas greeting cards could be found for sale in tobacconists shops, toy shops, and drapery shops. By 1895, most of the original Christmas greeting cards publishing firms went out of business due to the importing of German Christmas greeting cards, which were less expensive. The following is a list, with examples, of some of the most popular early publishers of 19th century Christmas greeting cards.

 

Greeting Card Publishers

CHARLES GOODALL & SON, LONDON- 1860

Charles Goodall & Son, a British publisher of visiting cards was one of the first to mass produce Christmas greeting cards and visiting cards. In 1866 Mr. Josiah Goodall commissioned Messrs. Marcus Ward & Co., of Belfast, to lithograph, for his firm, a set of four designs by C. H. Bennett, and in the following year another set by the same artist. These, together with Luke Limner's border design of Holly, Mistletoe, and Robins, may be taken as the fore-runners of the real Christmas greeting card.

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

C. H. BENNETT (1866-67) CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

C. H. BENNETT (1866-67) CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 
MARCUS WARD & CO., BELFAST, LONDON, NEW YORK- 1866-1895

This firm monopolized the Christmas greeting card trade for many years. They began with the home manufacturing of cards using German "chromos" mounted on cards with lithographed borders in gold and colors. They soon issued reproductions of original designs by noteworthy artists of the day such as Kate Greenaway, H. Stacy Marks, Walter Crane, and Thomas Crane.

 
KATE GREENAWAY CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 
KATE GREENAWAY CHRISTMAS GREETING CARD
 

KATE GREENAWAY CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 

H. STACY MARKS, R.A. CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

 

H. STACY MARKS, R.A. CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 
MARCUS WARD & CO.
 

WALTER CRANE CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 

THOMAS CRANE CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 

DE LA RUE & CO., LONDON- 1875-1885

De La Rue & Company's work is distinguished by a high degree of mechanical excellence. They are also noted for departing from the typical holiday designs with their introduction of classical figures of nude children. Prominent artists William Coleman, Rebecca Coleman and R. Dudley were employed by this publisher.

 

R. DUDLEY CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 

WILLIAM COLEMAN CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

WILLIAM COLEMAN CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 

S. HILDESHEIMER & CO., LONDON, MANCHESTER, NEW YORK- 1876-1890s

S. Hildesheimer & Company introduced "The Penny Basket" set in 1879. They developed a design competition and exhibition at St. James's Hall, London, in 1881. The firm began reproducing etchings and water-colors by artist Wilfrid Ball, a member of the Society of Paint Etchers in 1881.

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

WILFRID BALL CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

WILFRID BALL CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 

Hildesheimer & Faulkner

This company was started by Albert Hildesheimer and C. W. Faulkner; and later became C. W. Faulkner & Co. In 1882 they instituted a Prize Competition in which artist Alice Havers took first prize for her A Dream of Patience card.

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

ALICE HAVERS CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

ALICE HAVERS CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

FRED HINES CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 

LOUIS PRANG & CO., BOSTON- 1874

"The Father of the American Christmas Card." Prang Christmas greeting cards often cost as much as $1 over a hundred years ago.
 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

L. B. HUMPHREYS CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

DORA WHEELER CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS
 

 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

ELIHU VEDDER CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

 

RAPHAEL TUCK & CO./ RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS
LONDON: 1870s, NEW YORK: 1885

One of the best known and collectible of 19th century Christmas greeting cards publishers, they had prize competitions in 1880 and the "Royal Academy" series in 1882.

RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS
RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS
 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

W.F. YEAMES CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 
RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS
RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS
 
CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS

R. J. ABRAHAM CHRISTMAS GREETING CARDS 

 

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