A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Monday, December 05, 2005

A 162-Year-Old Christmas Card

AP: One of First Christmas Cards Auctioned---

LONDON - A 162-year-old Christmas card — one of the first ever printed — sold at auction Saturday for $16,000.

The hand-colored card, which shows a family celebrating around a table, is one of about 10 surviving from an original batch of 1,000 printed in 1843, auctioneer Henry Aldridge said.

The cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole, a Londoner who is generally recognized as the inventor of the commercial Christmas card.

The card was bought at the auction in the town of Devizes in southern England by Jakki Brown, editor and co-owner of "Progressive Greetings" magazine and general secretary of the Greeting Card Association.

Aldridge said he was "pleased with the price and that the card is staying in this country within the greetings card industry."

The card was originally sent to a Miss Mary Tripsack, a close friend of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the wife of the poet Robert Browning.

"We don't know who sent it to Miss Tripsack. We can only assume that they must have been of means, as cards were a novelty at the time," Aldridge said.

John Calcott Horsley, a British painter, designed the card for Cole, who was the first director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

Cole printed 1,000 of the cards on a lithograph stone before having them hand-colored.

The card drew some criticism from Victorians because it shows some members of the family enjoying a glass of wine, but that did not keep the practice of sending cards from catching on.

Although wood engravers produced prints with religious themes in Europe in the Middle Ages, the first commercial Christmas and New Year's cards are believed to have been produced by Cole in 1843.
Photo here.