Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas Greetings

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I enjoy history and because of my research into my own family history have a certain passion for the Victorian era - the way they lived, their social history, the clothes they wore, their occupations etc. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, and enables us to imagine how things were before we were born.

Several years ago I took a two year City and Guilds course called "Victorian Heirlooms" where I not only learnt the art of making different Victorian crafts and learning about their pastimes, customs and traditions as well as health and education, I was also introduced to  Victorian designers, The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Garden designers, Photography, The Music Hall to name but a few (more about that another time). A project that I was involved with during our winter break was to research the life and times of Sir Henry Cole and more particularly with his part in the creation of the Christmas card.

Until 1840 it was comparatively expensive to send a letter and only important mail was sent by the mail coaches; the ordinary people did not indulge in idle correspondence. However, in that year the Penny Post was introduced by Sir Rowland Hill, which made it possible for people to correspond with each other for a reasonable price. In 1843 it was Sir Henry Cole who asked a friend and colleague John Callcott Horsley, a well known artist to design a Christmas greetings card which depicts a large family group drinking a toast and wishing A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you. About a thousand copies of the card were printed but were not an instant success because at a shilling (5pence) each they were considered to be too expensive. However by 1870 the custom was slowly becoming established and eventually spread worldwide.

Look out for my new Victorian blog in the New Year!

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