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Who came up with the ‘Christmas card’?

The Webster Museum shares the history behind holiday cards

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Webster, NY - Did you know that the very first Christmas card was created by a teenager in England?


Webster Museum volunteer Kathy Taddeo shared a brief history of holiday cards with Webster Online in the spirit of the season.


A teenager in England created the first Christmas card for mass distribution sometime before 1860. Shortly after, British card firms followed suit.


In 1873, a card autographed by Charles Dickens was reproduced by Boston lithographer Louis Prang, who went on to invent a 20-color printing process. He employed artisans and writers such as Winslow Homer and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to design and write verse for his cards. They were priced from 50 cents to $15 each at the time.

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Photo provided by Kathy Taddeo


Today, Prang’s cards are highly collectible.


Germany’s penny postcards began flooding the market in the early 1900s. By 1910, a man by the name of J.C. Hall was selling similar postcards from a shoebox in Kansas City. That same man is responsible for the famed Hallmark cards of today.


Taddeo says the Webster Museum has a collection of holiday cards often used to enhance exhibits.


So the next time you’re writing a holiday card, take a moment to appreciate the historical background of this nationwide tradition.