Happy New Year everyone!  Even though Christmas is behind us, I came across a fun article in Quartz magazine about the history of Christmas cards and thought I’d share some details.

According to the article, cards originated from two sources, cards that aristocrats gave their hosts when they visited, and cards that students sent to their families to update them while away at school.  This morphed into citizens of Victorian England creating handmade cards to exchange to family and friends at Christmastime.  The first time Christmas cards were made for profit was in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, who made a run of 1000 cards.  The Penny Postage Act of 1840 allowed the British to send mail for a penny, which facilitated the proliferation of these Christmas cards.  By the 1870s, there were several manufacturers of Christmas cards throughout Europe, and by 1875, Christmas cards appeared in the United States.  American Greetings was founded in 1906, and Hallmark was founded in 1910.  The postcard format was originally most popular, but folded cards began to increase in popularity in 1915.  The 1950s and 1960s were big years for the greeting card industry, and cards became an important part of American culture.  The article ends by saying that contrary to initial expectations, the internet has not destroyed physical greeting cards; rather, the two seem to compliment each other.  I totally agree!  What a long way we’ve come!

Some other fun facts from the article:

  • According to the American Greeting Cards Association, Americans buy 6.5 billion greeting cards every year!
  • The average American purchases 34 greeting cards per year
  • A lot of this activity happens around Christmas, when approximately 1.6 billion cards are sold annually