Thursday, October 24, 2019

Victorian Christmas Cards

Probably the most iconic Holiday tradition to come from the Victorian era is the Christmas Card. Many of these cards and post cards can be found in antique stores today. The art and decorations on these cards are wonderful.

Queen Victoria embraced this new tradition and had her children create and send cards. The first Christmas and New Years Day cards were thought to be designed and sold in London in 1843. The railroads made sending the cards practical and efficient, and the half penny postage rate made it affordable.

An industry was built around the new tradition for artists and engravers. It is thought that Sir Henry Cole, Director of Victoria and Albert Museum, commissioned John Callcott Horsley, a well known artiest, to produce the first cards. Those cards were lithographs then hand colored.

Often the cards were not only pieces of visual art, they contained original poetry. By the end of the 19th century, Yuletide cards were a thriving industry. Popular themes were holly, mistletoe, robins, musical bars, and children.

An interesting fact was that the Temperance Union strongly opposed the new tradition of sending Christmas Cards. They believed that the cards would cause excessive drinking and drunkenness. Needless to say, their fears and protests fell on deft ears.

But the Victorian cards were not just holly, firs, and flowers. A curious tradition of the Victorians were the 'Creepy' genre of their Christmas cards. In typical British style, the Victorians adored the bizarre and macabre. While typical Christmas Cards were full of religious lines wishing glad tidings and full of joy - not so much for many Victorians. There was the card from the 1880's that featured a dead Robin with the words 'May yours be a joyful Christmas'. The weird and wacky included Santa Claus kidnapping children, a devil horned snowman, and dead rats. 

These examples are not unique, this was popular at the time.

Image result for creepy victorian christmas cards

Image result for creepy victorian christmas cards

Image result for creepy victorian christmas cards

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