Even in the 19th century, people felt rushed for time during the holiday season! Some folks started sending Christmas cards instead of writing Christmas letters or making a holiday visit to friends and loved ones. In some instances, cards began to take the place of an actual gift.
The Christmas card appears to be a descendant of school pieces which were popular in England in the first half of the 19th century. These were sheets of writing paper with designs in pen and ink with copper-plate headings. One English historian claims that the Christmas card was invented around 1839
The first American made Christmas card was distributed by R. H. Pease, an engraver and lithographer, in Albany, NY in the early 1850s. After the Civil War, when Congress standardized mail delivery, mail began to be delivered faster, more dependably and cheaper than ever before. This made it much easier to send Christmas greetings through the mail. By 1876, a company in Boston owned by Louis Prang was producing over 5 million illustrated Christmas cards a year.
Here are some images of vintage Christmas cards for you to enjoy.