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Blog post from Tuesday, 9 December, 2014

On this day. 9th December 1843, the first Christmas cards were created in England. Sir Henry Cole, Director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, found that writing numerous Christmas greetings to friends and colleagues was too time-consuming. He asked his artist friend, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card which could be used by Cole and also sold to the public.

Horsley produced 1,000 lithographed and hand-coloured cards which were more like postcards. They sold for a shilling, which was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a labourer. It was another twenty years before Christmas cards became more affordable, following the invention of cheaper colour lithography.

The State Library of New South Wales holds a large collection of historic Christmas and greeting cards.

An Australian Christmas card from the Fry family papers.