From the Collections: Christmas cards

Article | Updated 3 months ago

In 1843, prominent English socialite and arts patron Henry Cole was inundated with seasonal greetings. In response, he commissioned the very first Christmas card.

Friend and artist John Callcott Horsley created an illustration depicting acts of charity and the Cole family enjoying the festivities. Space was left so the card could be quickly personalised for the recipient.

Cole arranged for 1000 copies of the illustration to be printed. One of thse copies can be viewed on the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Diving into our own online collections we see how this once timesaving measure became a staple tradition for those who celebrate Christmas.

Postcard, Christmas H1995.283

Caption: Postcard, Christmas H1995.283
Image copyright WA Museum 

This landscape card has an ornate holly and gold border that surrounds text.

It reads,

Best Christmas Wishes.
Among the Greetings
sent to one held dear,
believe that mine remains
the most sincere.

Visit the online entry for this collection item.

Postcard, Christmas H1995.288

Caption: Postcard, Christmas H1995.288
Image copyright WA Museum 

A card that features a photographic print of ivy, paired with a Christmas message.

It reads,

Christmas and New Year Wishes to my Dear Pal.
Dearest Pal, on
This glad day
May your heart be bright and gay,
Brimming o'er with mirth and joy
Naught to trouble or annoy,
May you have the best of health
Comforts and sufficient wealth
And as days and months go by
Joys increase and multiply.

Visit the online entry for this collection item.

Postcard, Christmas H1995.299

Caption: Postcard, Christmas H1995.299
Image copyright WA Museum 

The card displays a sailing ship surrounded by icebergs with a border of holly and leaves.

It reads,

With all fond Wishes for a happy Christmas
Although the distant seas,
Our lonely lives may sever,
In thoughts this Christmas we,
Shall draw again together.

Visit the online entry for this collection item.

Postcard, Christmas H1995.277

Caption: Postcard, Xmas H1995.277
Image copyright WA Museum 

The card depicts an idyllic Christmas scene. A house is surrounded by snow with a decorated border of fir, cones and holly. It reads, Xmas.

Visit the online entry for this collection item.

Further Reading

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2017). The first Christmas card. [online] Available at: