Picture No 13796523
Date 1843
Description The first Christmas card sent out by Sir Henry Cole

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 various of his collaborations with Cundall.. This example sent (and signed) by Henry and Marian Cole was sent to '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 controvesy aided the popularity of the card and two printings totalling 2050 cards sold in 1843 for one shilling each. The first printing was 1000 copies. This is a rare original example of the card before hand-colouring.

Original lithograph Christmas card (before hand-colouring) designed by Horsley, published at Summerly's Home Treasury Office, 12 Old Bond Street, London
Credit Line

Henry Aldridge & Son Ltd. / Mary Evans