Choosing Christmas card designs that reflect your favorite vintage decorating style is a fun, affordable way to share your personal take on the holidays. |
Sending and receiving Christmas cards is one of the most popular holiday traditions, but it's a relatively modern addition. The first commercial Christmas cards were produced in London in 1843 and sold for a shilling - equivalent to a few pennies, but not an inconsiderable price at the time - each.
Though now we tend to think of holiday cards as a cost-effective way of maintaining ties with far-away friends and relatives, they didn't start out that way. The first were costly because they were hand-tinted rather than mass-produced, and because sending letters via post was both expensive and uncertain, they were mainly hand-delivered to a small, close circle of friends.
The advent of commercial printing lowered the price of Christmas cards to within the reach of most people, and the establishment throughout England of the Penny Post, which made it possible to send a letter or light package with a stamp costing just one penny, made mailing holiday greeting cards a viable option.
The cards produced through the end of the Victorian period were luxurious and elaborate, made of top-quality paper stock and lavishly trimmed with fringe, lace, and silk. Though the Victorian cards sometimes featured winter scenes, more often they focused on themes of general beauty and imagination, such as flowers or fairies.
In 1875 Christmas greeting cards were first produced and sold in America by lithographer Louis Prang. Like the original English cards, the first American versions were fairly elaborate high quality cards sent in sealed envelopes, but that trend changed in the late 1890s when an amendment to US postal regulations made it possible for commercial entities to create mailable postcards.
Christmas postcards were very popular around the turn of the century, but by the 1920s cards sent in envelopes once again became the norm. However, the newer cards were less elaborate and more affordable than those of the Victorian era, and most featured seasonal themes.
During the thirties, Christmas cards were typically relatively simple and seasonal, often with a stylized drawing of a holiday scene and a light-hearted greeting sometimes set in rhyme. In the forties, with World War II looming over all nations, Christmas cards took a more sincere turn and religious symbols, along with heartwarming depictions of children and family scenes, became common. During WWII the US Postmaster General urged consumers to send their Christmas cards as first-class mail, paying the full first-class rate of 3 cents each, with the slogan "First-class friends deserve first-class mail."
After the war, the new, upbeat, and progressive attitude that swept the nation was clearly evident in the Christmas cards of the day. During the fifties and sixties Christmas cards were less elaborate, less traditional, and less sentimental than those of the past; cartoon characters, stylized, cartoonish drawing, and greetings intended to make the recipient laugh were characteristic.
Greeting card Giant Hallmark estimates that 1.5 billion Christmas cards are sold in the US annually. You can easily carry through your theme of vintage decorating, just by choosing the right type of Christmas card designs.
For a Victorian theme: look for large, even oversized cards with lots of embellishment, elaborate script, romantically rendered images of beautiful objects like candles and flowers or seasonal scenes like nativities or Christmas trees.
For a Folk Art theme: select small, simple, meaningful cards that have a brief, sincere holiday message and a "handcrafted" look and feel.
For a Retro theme: Look for "studio" type cards - long, narrow rectangular cards that feature cartoon-type drawings and carry a humorous message. These cards became wildly popular in the fifties and are still available for just about every occasion, including Christmas.
Vintage Christmas decorating tip: use Christmas table linens to set your vintage style! Visit Vintage Christmas Decorations for more information.
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