The Scrap Album - Site Guide

  • Victorian
  • Greeting Card
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  • and the
  • New Year


The Cole Horsley Card

Image of first commercial Christmas card 1843

Image of John Callcott Horsley

The Worlds first commercial Christmas card
was designed by John Callcott Horsley (brother-in-law of Isambard Kingdom Brunel), for his friend Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

One thousand copies were published by Joseph Cundall, the mid 19th century children’s and illustrations publisher, and sold in 1843, at Felix Summerly’s Home Treasury Office at 12 Old Bond Street, London, England for six pence each coloured.

Image of Henry Cole

Cole’s card is about the size of an ordinary postcard. Trellis work and garlands of ivy create a rustic frame for a kind of triptych. The side panels depict the charitable acts of clothing the naked and feeding the hungry, whilst the middle part shows a happy family gathering, drinking a toast to Christmas and the New Year. Good works and good eating and drinking, the two elements of a Victorian Christmas, make their appearance together on this first card.

  • From top
  • The first Christmas card, lithograph, coloured by hand
  • 1843
  • 127 x 83mm (5 x 3¼in)
  • Portrait of John Callcott Horsley
  • Woodburytype, published 1882
  • Portrait of Sir Henry Cole

Albums & Scraps
Saint Valentines Day
Easter & Fairyland
Christmas & New Year
Printed Ephemera