December 28th, 2010

Christmas, Advent

Advent Art: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

John C. Horsley (1817–1903), illustrator; John Thompson (1785–1866), engraver
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 1843
Hand-colored lithograph
Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas

This here is a "Christmas Congratulation Card: or picture emblematical of Old English Festivity to Perpetuate kind recollections between Dear Friends." It is, in fact, the very first commercially produced Christmas card ever made. It was commissioned by Henry Cole, who was too busy (or at least thought himself to be) to engage in the traditional English custom of sending notes with holiday greetings to friends and relatives. He had one thousand cards printed, and what he didn't use himself he ended up selling (the description quoted above is part of the ad text), making it the first commercially sold Christmas card as well, I suppose. The card apparently caused a bit of a ruckus at the time, due to this shocking detail:

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (detail)

Won't somebody please think of the children!

Previous Advent posts:

2003: The Nativity of Christ
2004: Christmas Trees
2005: Christmas Wishes
2006: The Nativity of Christ
2007: The Holy Innocents
2008: Christmas Is All Around
2009: The Day After the Day After Boxing Day