John Calcott Horsley (1817-1903) was an English painter, who attended the Royal Academy of Arts. Most of his artwork featured historical scenes, such as this painting of Mary Queen of Scots:
|Mary Queen of Scots in Captivity, J.C. Horsley|
Then in 1843, Sir Henry Cole, a British civil servant, commissioned Horsley to design a card for him that he could mail out that Christmas. The card's main image depicts a family sitting down to a meal. But on the sides, scenes depict people providing food and clothes to the poor.
That year, approximately 1,000 of Horsley's cards were printed using a lithograph technique, and were hand-colored. However, they were expensive (1 shilling each) and it took quite a few years for the tradition to catch on.
Amazingly, a few of the original cards still exist:
|Horsley Christmas Card 1843, Auctioned in New York, 2010|
So, if you are thinking of carrying on a Victorian tradition this Christmas, remember J.C. Horsley and Henry Cole, and send a Christmas card! In fact, you may want to make or buy handmade cards:
|French Christmas Card by Darby Cards, Nasheville|
|Vintage Cards by Claryce Design|
|Angel Card by NewCreatioNZ|
|Steampunk Card by Immortal Visions|
|Vintage Card by GoGoSnap|