One of the first edition copies of the original Christmas card was discovered by a housewife in Essex England in 1954. The quaint old card bears the date of 1843 and the signature of the artist, shows in the centre panel, a family at their festive board, their glasses all raised in a holiday toast. Side panels represent gifts of food and clothing to the poor.
As the first known Christmas card, it was printed by Sir Henry Cole, a London publisher who commissioned a well-known artist to create a design for it. Strangely enough, his initial effort met with loud cries of mortal indignation because the design showed people “quaffing intoxicating beverages.”
Not until the publisher revealed the identity of the artist were the objections overcome. The creator of the controversial design was J.C. Horsley, of the Royal Academy who had at one time campaigned so vigorously against nudity in art that he earned the nickname “Clothes Horsley.” Confronted with this fact, the critics dropped their case, and the first printing of 50 cards was soon sold out. An additional 2000 were printed in order to satisfy the demand.
Within a few years, the originator faced a number of competitors. An endless variety of Christmas card designs appeared on the market, and rhymed greetings became popular. One enterprising firm came up with the ideas to offer Lord Tennyson 1000 guineas for a few lines of verse. Although he declined, lesser poets (the first copywriters) were not so constrained and whole new industry emerged, “The Greeting Card.”
Christmas cards are not the only Yuletide custom emerged from England. Apparently, they claim Christmas decorations as well originating in pre-Christian Druid days, Mistletoe, with it intriguing invitation, was used in the ancient Druid ceremony. Holly supposed to be effective in keeping witches away, was considered a handy thing to have around on Christmas day, the first day of the pagan New Year.
Simon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown. Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses. Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment
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