History of the greeting card

History of the greeting card

This is (a brief) history: sending greeting cards to friends, lovers and family is a tradition that goes way back! More than 200 years to be exact. It gained real popularity in the mid 1800's. One thing is for sure: the first cards were fine pieces of art.

Not before the 1860's, everyone could afford cards. Cheap colour printing came along, and they began to sell in their thousands, creating a new industry for artists and printers.
By the 1900's the Post Office was having to handle an extra 11.5 million letters in Christmas week alone.

The oldest known greeting card in existence, is a Valentine card made in the 1400's and can be admired at the British Museum (London). The Valentine and Christmas Card were the most popular cards, followed by Christmas.

St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving Cards gained popularity in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Paper Valentines were exchanged in Europe where they were given in place of Valentine gifts. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid 1800's. By the end of the 1800's, Valentines were being made entirely by machine. The first commercial valentine greeting cards produced in the United States were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland.

Christmas cards were introduced and popularized by John Calcott Horsley, the artist of the first Christmas Card and Louis Prang, known as the Father of the Christmas Card.
Today there are Paper cards in all sizes, Singing cards, Digital Postcards, Electronic Postcards, E-cards, E-Greetings... and even Netograms !