Although there are many various religious and cultural traditions that give cause for celebration during the winter holiday season, there is a common thread among them of reaching out to loved ones to extend warm greetings and affection. Christmas cards are ephemeral, often being tossed into the trash after New Year's Day, except for that special one here or there that gets tucked into the family Bible or slipped into a scrapbook for memory's sake.
The first commercially produced Christmas card was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London, 1843. At the time of posting, there are two of the very first Christmas card listed for sale on Biblio.com (James Cummins Bookseller & Donald Heald Rare Books). By 1873, Prang and Mayer started to vend their own holiday greeting cards in England, and then for the American market in 1874. We have a few Prang cards in a lovely collection in the gallery below.
We've delved into the listings here on Biblio to find a few particularly wonderful examples of holiday cards sent by the well known - from artists and illustrators to politicians and activists.