What we owe the Victorians~

Christmas Crackers! ...Circa 1900

Sitting here addressing holiday cards made me think about where they came from.  We can thank those Victorians from England for them.  Since I write Victorian Noir and all my stories seem to end up in that time I can appreciate their contribution to a tradition in full force today.

Sir Henry Cole (a civil servant with a very nice British name) commissioned the first Christmas card in London in 1843 because he had too many holiday wishes to write out and didn’t want to pen each and every one.  Sound familiar?   So Sir Henry asked English painter J.C. Horsley to design one and history was made.  About 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling (equivalent of about a nickel) each.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, instead favoring flowers, fairies and other fanciful designs that reminded the recipient of the approach of spring. My favorites are the holiday themed images that came later.  In 1875 Louis Prang (recognize the name of Prang for the paints and chalks still sold today) became the first printer to offer cards in America.

These people were shrewd businessmen I tell you.  I sure hope they made some money for their idea, because I am shelling out loads of cash now over 100 years later.  Cards, stamps, labels, printer ink…and it adds up.  But still, I do enjoy getting them in the mail so I imagine I’ll still continue to send them out.  *as I moisten the last envelope with a wet sponge*  Lick the envelopes?  Heck no!!!  George’s fiance died that way!~