The Cole Horsley Card
The Worlds first commercial Christmas card was designed by John Callcott Horsley (brother-in-law of Isambard Kingdom Brunel), for his friend Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
One thousand copies were published by Joseph Cundall, the mid 19th century children’s and illustrations publisher, and sold at Felix Summerlys Home Treasury Office in Old Bond Street, England for one shilling each in 1843.
Coles card is about the size of an ordinary postcard. Trellis work and garlands of ivy create a rustic frame for a kind of triptych. The oblong side-pieces depict the charitable acts of clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, whilst the middle part shows a happy family gathering, drinking a toast to Christmas and the New Year, inviting us to join in.
Good works and good eating and drinking, the two elements of a Victorian Christmas, make their appearance together, as it should be, on this first card.
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