Christmas cards were first commercially produced in 1843 by Henry Cole, then gaining in popularity amongst the upper and middle classes of mid Victorian era Britain. The introduction of cheap postage in the 1870's led to a dramatic increase in the sending of cards. Therefore by the Edwardian era, and with the introduction of mass produced and inexpensive colour lithographic postcards, the giving and receiving of Christmas cards had become a well established and popular custom amongst all classes of society.
|A Traditional Christmas Card featuring|
A traditionally styled Christmas card featuring Santa Claus, a verse, and a sprig of holly. The personage of "Father Christmas", "a jolly well-nourished bearded man dressed in a long, green, fur-lined robe", has in fact been a British custom since the 17th century.
|"Wishing You a Merry Xmas"|
This sepia toned card by Valentines makes use of Walter Dendy Sadler's 1880 painting of Franciscan Friars fishing. The "Thursday" plus the fishing theme relates to the fact that the Friars were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays.
A Scottish Christmas card featuring two doves and a dovecot along with a sweet but now rather contrived verse.
|"At Rudgewick, Surrey"|
A chromolithographic Christmas postcard printed by Meissner& Buck of Leipzig and featuring swans at Rudgwick in Surrey. The Land or Province of Saxony in Germany was at this time a major centre of the chromolithography industry, especially for the the British postcard market. This all ended in 1914 with the outbreak of "The Great War".
|"At Rudgewick, Surrey"|
An attractive Christmas card featured in my blog of "Edwardian beauties". Unusually this sepia card has been delicately hand-tinted.
This glossy card features the use of actual photographs which have been tinted to increase their visual effectiveness.
An Edwardian Christmas card of a view overlooking Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu New Zealand. The publisher has made use of a stock tourist card printed in Saxony Germany with an overprinted Christmas greeting.
Another stock tourist card which has been utilised as a Christmas card by overprinting. As is still the case today, tourist views were frequently used in the Edwardian era as Christmas cards, especially for friends and family back in "The Old Country" [Great Britain], as was the case in both examples above.
A photograph of a young Maōri maiden has been used in this chromolithographic card from New Zealand. Maōri images and themes were common in cards for relatives and friends back in "The Old Country", giving them an often highly romanticised but no doubt fascinating glimpse of indigenous New Zealand culture.
- All images are from my own personal collection