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The First Christmas Card


"Firstchristmascard". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

The first Christmas card is believed to have been designed in England by the painter John Callcott Horsley in 1843.

He created the greeting for Sir Henry Cole. The card, a triptych, depicts a family party, beneath them are the words “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” A thousand copies were made and colored by hand.

“Within 20 years several British firms were publishing Christmas cards for the general public.” —Encyclopedia Americana - (Greeting Cards)

Louis Prang, a Boston lithographer, “is credited with producing the first commercial Christmas cards in the United States.” A German immigrant, he began printing cards in “Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1874. By the 1880s he was producing more than five million a year.” —Encyclopaedia Britannica - (Christmas Card)

The NYPL Digital Collections contain over 800 images of Christmas postcards, primarily from the Picture Collection of Mid-Manhattan, as well as other collections. Search for “Christmas Postcards” or “Christmas Cards

Happy Holidays to All… or should I say “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”


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