The world's first printed and hand-coloured Christmas card has now gone on display in Charles Dickens Museum in London just in time for the festive season. Printed in 1843, the card was sold originally for one shilling and shaped a centuries-old tradition. Among the 1,000 Christmas cards that were printed in 1843, only 21 survive today.
Designed by Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley, in the same year that Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published, the hand-coloured card shows a family gathered around a table enjoying a glass of wine with a message: “A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you.”
Reportedly, among the 21 cards, one has been lent to the Charles Dickens Museum in London by a book dealer based in San Francisco.
Both Dickens and Cole worked at the same time and subsequently shaped what would become a popular Christmas tradition. In 1877 when the concept of giving and sending Christmas cards really took off, some 4.5 million cards were sent to families. The museum curator, Louisa Price said that this was a very important day for the modern Christmas because the Christmas card is such a big part today's Christmas.
Did you know that the worlds very first Christmas card was sent in 1843 by Henry Cole, the director of an art museum? Thanks Henry! pic.twitter.com/Nr7J6C8EEP— Glass Wheel Studio (@GlassWheelNFK) December 25, 2016
Cole was instrumental in setting up the Penny Post letter-delivery system in 1840 and today billions of Christmas cards make their way around the world. The Charles Dickens Museum in London is an author's house museum at 48 Doughty Street. It was Charles Dickens house from 25 March 1837 to December 1839.
While the Christmas card is the biggest attraction in the museum, there are other attractions as well. The other attractions include sketches of Dickens' Scrooge, Fezziwig and Christmas Ghosts by John Leech and books illustrated with woodcuts and steel plate engravings.