The “First” Commercial Christmas Card – 1843
A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You!
London: Joseph Cundall for Henry Cole [December] 1843.
Hand-colored lithograph measuring 3-1/16 x 5 in (7.9 x 12.7 cm), in unused condition, with pricing details on verso, probably a salesman’s sample. One thousand copies were originally printed to sell for one shilling each, now estimating less than 30 examples survive (in various condition, mostly quite used or worn). This is amongst the finest known copies.
John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903) designed this very first Christmas and New Year card in 1843 at the suggestion of Sir Henry Cole, afterwards founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It is believed the card went on sale the same week that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first issued. As it illustrates a family toasting the recipient with raised glasses of red wine, including children, it was quickly denounced by the Puritans and suppressed. It took another three years before the second commercial Christmas card was produced.