Wishing someone a Merry Christmas never goes out of style, although the ways we do it have changed over the years. Today we can FaceTime with our loved ones who are far away or send a funny holiday GIF to our friends. For families of the last two centuries, the best way to spread holiday cheer was a Christmas Card.
The first commercial Christmas card was designed in 1843 in London. Sir Henry Cole commissioned his friend, John Callcott Horsley, to design a card for him as a solution to not having enough time to individually write Christmas greetings to all his family and friends.
Horsley designed a triptych depicting good deeds on either side and a warm family Christmas party in the center. The card was lithographed and then colored by hand. Of the 1,000 that were printed, twelve still exist today, including the one Sir Cole sent his Grandmother!
Now that you have the backstory, let your heart be charmed by these 10 vintage Christmas cards from the New York Public Library digital archive. And if that’s not enough holiday spirit for you, there are many more! Enjoy the full archive here.
1. ‘A MERRY XMAS, WHERE IGNORANCE IS BLISS’
Uh oh. Looks like some Christmas troublemakers.
2. ‘A MERRY CHRISTMAS’
A card for the more “straight to the point” types…
3. ‘A MERRY CHRISTMAS; THINE OWN WISH WISH I THEE’
This little girl hit the jackpot!
4. ‘A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR’
A card for the more adventurous types. Look at the bottom right, George even had it personalized!
5. ‘A LOVEBIRDS MERRY CHRISTMAS’
This couple definitely had the Christmas spirit.
6. ‘A MISTLETOE MERRY CHRISTMAS’
Looks like someone’s having some fun under the mistletoe!
7. ‘WISHING YOU A PURRR-FECT CHRISTMAS’
A card for all the cat lovers out there.
8. ‘MAY YOU HAVE A ROOF-TASTIC CHRISTMAS’
… And let’s not forget the dog lovers.
9. ‘A SANTA-TASTIC MERRY CHRISTMAS’
Cause even Santa needs a little fun sometimes right?
10. ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS ANGELS’
And finally, this one, because nothing says Christmas like getting serenaded by a quartet of little baby angels.