World's First Christmas Card Goes On Display

Of the 1,000 Christmas cards originally printed, only 21 survived


The world's first printed Christmas card has gone on display at the Charles Dickens Museum in London. The card was printed in 1843, the same year that Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' was published, according to The Guardian.

It was designed by Henry Cole, a British civil servant, and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley. The hand-coloured card shows a family celebrating around a table, enjoying a glass of wine, along with the message: "A merry Christmas and a happy new year to you."

Of the 1,000 Christmas cards originally printed, only 21 survived. The one that has gone on display was sent by a son to his parents.

According to Jersey Evening Post, these printed Christmas cards were sold for a shilling each and were initially not a success. The idea of sending Christmas cards actually took off in 1877, when 4.5 million cards were posted to families. Today, of course, Christmas cards are a global industry.

Museum curator Louisa Price said: "This was a really important year for the development of the modern Christmas. The Christmas card is such a big part of our Christmases today. And A Christmas Carol is such a significant story that we see every year at Christmas time."

The Christmas card will be displayed as part of an exhibition titled 'Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas'. The exhibition, which will begin today, will run till April next year and also display early sketches of Dickens' Scrooge, Fezziwig and the Christmas ghosts.

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