href="/christmas/overview">Christmas greeting cards were a byproduct of the cheap postal service in Victorian-era England, when sending annual holiday letters became a required ritual, particularly among the upper classes. As a popular educator and arts patron (who would eventually become the first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum), Henry Cole had more holiday letters to write than most, and it was this pressure that inspired him to create the first Christmas card in 1843.

Instead of responding individually to each of his contacts, Cole asked an artist friend named J.C. Horsley to design him a card that could be simply signed and mailed. The design featured a family raising a toast at its center, with images of people helping the poor on either side. Though other prominent Britons quickly jumped on the bandwagon, including Queen Victoria herself, it took a few decades for Christmas cards to become a widespread tradition.

Across the pond, the first American Christmas card was printed in 1875 by Louis Prang at his shop near Boston. The card was decorated with a painting of a flower and the classic greeting, “Merry Christmas.” As more publishers distributed seasonal cards, their unique designs became popular for collecting and pasting into scrapbooks.

Mass-produced Christmas cards took a leap forward after a Kansas City printing company founded by Joyce Hall and his brothers created their first holiday design in 1915. Instead of the traditional postcard style, the company switched to folded or book-style greeting cards that would be mailed in an envelope.

The innovative design stuck, and Hall Brothers grew into Hallmark, one of the largest card companies in the world. The company eventually used its clout to commission Christmas cards from famous artists like Norman Rockwell in addition to its staff of designers. President Dwight D. Eisenhower personally consulted with Joyce Hall before issuing the first official White House cards, which featured a portrait of Abraham Lincoln—painted by Eisenhower!—in 1953.

Hallmark’s top-selling design, which debuted in 1977, featured an image of three cherubic angels, two bowed in prayer and a third staring out from the card. The design is still in production today, and has sold more than 34 million copies.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Papa Teds Place

Papa Teds Place

The late Theodore H. Althof, Jr's beautiful collection of vintage dimestore cardboard Christmas 'putz' village hous… [read review or visit site]

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Non Sports Cards: Tobacco, Gum and Candy

Tom Boblitt moderates this extremely deep, collaborative site dedicated to non-sports cards (tobacco, gum and candy… [read review or visit site]

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

This simple site showcases over 500 artistic Gablonz glass bead antique and vintage Christmas tree ornaments, made … [read review or visit site]

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

This site showcases over 1000 old Soviet Christmas and New Years cards from 1950 to 1990. Browse through page after… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Castell Robert Dudley Artist Victorian Christmas Card Anthropomorphic OwlsArtist Gordon Fraser Victorian Christmas Card Ice Skaters Falling Down H & FVintage Unused Christmas Card 1952 Cats Kittens Die Cut Mailbox Marjorie CooperUnused Vintage Greeting Card Christmas Little Girl Glittered Fur Muff HallmarkSweet Little Girl Kitten Plaid Dress Fur Trim Vintage Christmas Greeting CardBusy Evening Town Train Station Cars People 40's Vintage Christmas Greeting CardVintage Christmas Card Smiling Lion Hugs Mad Faced Lamb Friend A Little Too HardMaguire Shaped Victorian Christmas Greetings Card Cats In Basket Embossed Unused Vintage Christmas Card City Sparkling Glitter Horse Carriage Park PeopleVintage "waiting For Santa With A Letter!!" Christmas Greeting CardUnused Vintage Christmas Card Pretty Brunette Girl Dress Snowflake Glitter StarChristmas-raphael Tuck-victorian Santa-rebus Puzzle-letter Series-antique CardPretty Lady Garland Pink Skirt Puppy Gold 60's Vintage Christmas Greeting Card'40s Girl W/flocked Fur Trimmed Dress Hat, Poinsettias Vtg Christmas Card Sleeping Tiger Kitten/cat Christmas Greeting Card Mouse Plus Mark A. G. VtgVintage Christmas Card Crestwick Cute Angel Girl Child Baby Cradle Pink Rose EucVintage "snow Couples One Horse Open Sleigh!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage "snowman Puffing In At Christmastime!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage "scottie's 'hanging' Around!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage "here We Go Again.......!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage "hearty Christmas Greetings!!" Christmas Greeting Card'50s-60s Little Girl Putting Jingle Bells On Fawn Vtg Christmas Card Prang Victorian Christmas Card Woman Child Artist Rosina Emmett Prize Design Pretty Angel Girls Singing Golden Halos 1940's Vintage Christmas Greeting CardSanta Pink Hat Mittens Ornaments, Kitten, Mica Glitter Vt. Christmas Card Little Boy Girl Christmas Morning Toys 1940's Vintage Christmas Greeting CardVintage Norcross Christmas Greeting Card Die Cut Felted Cat In A Chair Aunt 1664Unused Vintage Crown Velvet Christmas Card Shiny Brite Ornament Atomic Gold StarShaped Victorian Christmas Greetings Card Donkey Holding Envelope Embossed Vintage 1940's Black And White Scottie Dogs Merry Christmas Greeting Card Vintage Norcross Christmas Greeting Card Gal & Her Hats For Daughter 1694Vintage Christmas Card:yellow Farm House In Snow - Children PlayingVintage Unused Glittery Bird House "merry Christmas Mommy" Card W/env.Vintage Gibson Card Baby's First Christmas Cute Child In White Snow Suit Puppy Vintage "angels In Santa's Cap - Marjorie Cooper!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage Greeting Card Christmas Cute Little Girl Snowball Puppy DogVintage Christmas Card Greeting Candles Holly Leaves And Berries 1930s Old CharmMarcus Ward Victorian Christmas Card Bramble Blackberry Grub Religious TextVintage "church In The Snow Covered Village!!" Christmas Greeting CardVintage "candle Wishes!!" Christmas Greeting CardMary Hamilton Christmas Greeting Card Kids Singing Carols Puppy Hallmark UnusedHuge Vintage Christmas Card Lot - 140+ Cards, Over 2 LbsVintage Christmas Card Unused Pretty Girl Dress People In Church Singing 4folds Vintage Christmas Card Family Cooking Dinner Shopping Decorating Church 5 ImagesLot Of 61 Vintage Christmas Greeting Cards 34 Are Norcross 9 Are Crestwick 1620'50s-60s Angel Flocked Fur Muff And Sleigh Gifts Snowflakes Vtg. Christmas Card Vtg Christmas Greeting Card Lady Girl Dress Art Deco Pink Piano Player GlitterVintage Lot 40 All Types Of Dogs Christmas, Valentine, Etc. Greeting CardsHuge Lot! 170 Used Vintage Greeting Cards Christmas 1940's 1950's 1960'sVintage Christmas Card 1950s Children Sitting On Santa's Lap Reading Story BookVintage Christmas Wrapping Paper Nos 2/ 20x30 Snow Fawns Baby Deer Playing SnowVintage Christmas Card Unused Pretty Girl Red Dress Fur Trim Gifts Pets PoodleVntg Christmas Card Santa Claus Gets Revenge On Polar Bear That Tried To Eat HimVntg Mcm Mod Card Santa Stands Between 2 Hippies Holding Signs We Love ChristmasUnused Church Houses In Falling Snow Gold Gilt Accents Vtg Christmas Card Vintage Norcross Christmas Greeting Card Forrest Animals Fawn Cardinal 1625Vintage Greeting Card Christmas Snow And Ice Shades Of Blue Front Door WelcomeVtg Christmas Greeting Card Unused Retro Girl Wrapping Presents Gold 1960sVintage Partial Boxes Of Maxfield Parrish Christmas CardsAdorable Big Eyed Deer Wreath Red Bow 1940's Vintage Christmas Greeting Card