With only a month or so to go until Christmas, it really is time to think about getting those cards written and sent out...although if you send cards overseas using International Economy (formerly known as surface mail) you might like to start planning for Christmas 2016 instead, because you’ve missed your latest posting dates for this year.
Sir Henry Cole, Penny Post pioneer, founder of the V&A Museum and chief organiser of the Great Exhibition, commissioned the first commercial Christmas cards in 1843 as a way of encouraging more ordinary people to use the new public postal deliveries that had started just three years earlier.
It was his fault that many of us now spend hours each winter scribbling our names in cards, perhaps agonising whether the recipient will read too much into the words “with love from” and wondering if would it be better to say “with best wishes” instead, or looking back at the cards we received the previous year and thinking “but who’s Trevor and how do I send him a card this year if I don’t know where he lives?”
Those first cards, illustrated by John Callcott Horsley, had two outer panels that showed people caring for the poor and a centre panel depicting a family enjoying a large Christmas dinner. It was a somewhat controversial design as it showed a young child drinking wine, but nonetheless around 1,000 copies were sold, priced at one shilling each.
In November 2001, at an auction held in Devizes, one of Sir Henry’s cards, sent to his grandmother and aunt, sold for £22,500!
Today there is no other country that has quite such a tradition of card sending or card display in the home – the sending and receiving of cards is an important part of UK culture, especially for women, who buy roughly 85% of all cards sold.
To make your lives easier, and goodness knows we all need some help at this time of year, The Bristol Shop is offering a fantastic range of Christmas cards, which can be seen in our Bristol Made Christmas Collection.
There are robins by Jill Spence:
And beautiful local scenes from Susie Ramsay
In other words, whoever you’re sending a card to, we have a design they’ll love, just make sure you don’t miss the Royal Mail’s recommended posting dates!