The Very First Christmas Card
On May 1st, 1843 English Academic painter and illustrator John Callcott Horsley designed the first commercially produced and printed Christmas card, commissioned by English civil servant and inventor Henry Cole. Joseph Cundall, a London publisher of children's books, collaborated on the project, put his imprint on the card, and sold them at his Summerly Home Treasury Office. Summerly was a pseudonym invented by Henry Cole and used in a variety of his collaborations with Cundall.
This example sent (and signed) by Henry and Marian Cole was inscribed with, 'Granny and Aunt Char'. The hand-colored lithographed card, which read "A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year to You," was controversial because it included a picture of a family with a small child drinking wine together which disturbed the UK temperance movement (who were calling for abstinence from alcohol at that time). The controversy aided the popularity of the card and two printings, totalling 2050 cards, sold in 1843 for one shilling each.
Although we've had a version of this image, taken from a reproduction, for some years, we now have
images of the original examples from 1843 sold by Henry Aldridge & Co, one hand-coloured and another, even rarer version before hand-colouring.