By Caryl Clem:
During the Victorian era in the 1800’s, letter writing exemplified class and prestige. Christmas letters and notes wishing a joyous New Year were expected. Overworked Sir Henry Cole had a growing mound of correspondence in unopened letters on his desk. The act of ignoring correspondences was inexcusable and inspired Sir Henry to have a reputation saving brainstorm. In 1843, he hired an artist to design and engrave 1,000 cards to mail that displayed a festive prosperous family gathering that was active in acts of charity towards others. Signing the cards was a fast way to solve his problem while staff carried out addressing and mailing.
A few years earlier in Scotland, Thomas Shorrock had created a card showing a man’s grinning ear to ear smile as a toast is made with the message printed, “A Gude Year Tae Ye”. Within 3 decades the custom of sending Christmas cards had grown to 11 million.
The demand for attractive cards expanded lithography techniques. Printing cards in color involved a process termed, Chromolithography, which required up to 20 plates to create multiple intense colors. A talented “Chromos” printer, Louis Prang from Poland immigrated to America to set up his own business in Boston. He discovered techniques improving card appearance while lowering costs. He has been credited as the Father of the United States Christmas Card. He ran yearly contests to introduce new designs judged by known artists and community members. For the first time, contests won recognition for females artists for 5 years in a row.
Sending attractive postcard size Christmas cards left little room to share thoughts or events. In 1915 Joyce Hall changed the format size of a card into the 4 inch by 6 inch folded card to be inserted into an envelope still in production today. This Kansas City family new business venture company became Hallmark.
Christmas card demand was spurred by a new marketing approach linking cards to collecting money for a charity. In 1949, UNICEF featured a card showing Hope and Help as drawn by a young Czech girl whose village had been saved from starvation .The first Christmas card stamp was issued in 1962. Keeping the consumer enthralled with Christmas cards ushered in designs produced by famous people. In 1963, Jacqueline Kennedy created Glad Tidings and Gift of the Magi for Hallmark to raise money for the Kennedy Center.
Chicago themed Christmas cards still raise money for various institutions. Cards for Causes are one of them. You can get cards with beautiful pictures of Chicago’s skyline. The effect that your purchase of Chicago Christmas cards and holiday cards from Cards for Causes will make: 20% of your total purchase will be donated to your charity of choice. Cards for Causes have several different locations across the US and celebrates are variety of holidays.
The nostalgia felt by opening a card can erase years. Touching one of a kind handmade Christmas card originals are just valuable as any retail form. Last year over 2 billion cards hit mailboxes ahead of the 50 million sent email versions. Spreads some Christmas Cheer, it’s safely contagious!