Sir Henry Cole is credited with inventing the Christmas card. During the holiday season of 1843, Cole saw letters of Christmas greetings from friends begin to pile up quicker than he could respond. Cole had the idea of printing a single design several times, on which he could simply fill out the name of the recipient. He took his design to John Calicott Horsley, an artist and friend, who created a card depicting a family sitting around a table, with the inscription “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.” The idea became popular, but only among the upper class, especially in England, until the 1870s.
In 1875, Louis Prang, a Prussian immigrant who owned a print shop near Boston, had the idea of mass-producing Christmas cards. Prang wanted to make Christmas cards more affordable for the emerging middle class. His original Christmas cards, depicting religious or natural themes, were a huge success. By the 1880s, Prang was printing more than 5 million Christmas cards annually. Today, an estimated 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the United States each year.
Look for the Christmas cards in the Formal Parlor and Mrs. Ralston’s Bedroom.