Saturday, 11 December 2010

December - greetings

Christmas time - a season of goodwill to all, when feuds are put aside and greetings are sent to family and freinds in the form of a card.

The world's first commercially produced Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843. Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier so the idea of producing cards for people to send through the post was a sound business scheme. The image (a family with a small child celebrating with Christmas wine) was controversial. Despite this Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold (for a shiling each) that year.

The production of Christmas cards was, throughout the 20th century, a profitable business for many stationery manufacturers, with the design of cards continually evolving with changing tastes and printing techniques.

In recent decades changes in technology may be responsible for the decline of the Christmas card. I'm not a fan of the e-card but, this year, I am pruning my christmas list back to the bare essentials. Postal costs have risen to the point where it is no lionger financially sound to send lots of cards, especially overseas. I recently posted a card (admittedly it was heavier than usual) to the USA for £1.40 - a far cry from the penny post. When the cost of postage is greater than the cost of the card (even home-made ones), it is time for a re-think.