This Christmas postcard is from the
Genevieve Whitney collection at the Tustin
Area Museum. Postcard greetings which could
be mailed for a penny were popular in the
Christmas card is said to have been created in
England in 1843, Louis Prange is considered to
be the first to print and market a holiday card
in the U.S. in 1874. The idea of sending
greeting cards to friends and family for
Christmas caught on and 10 years later his shop
in Rosbury, Mass., was selling 5 million a year.
The popularity of
Christmas greeting cards continued to grow
during the Victorian years, fueled by the
introduction of the Christmas postcard. The U.S.
Post Office Department issued America’s first
postal card which sold for one cent on May 13,
1873. Privately printed cards with no connection
to the post office continued to be identified as
postcards or souvenir cards and required a
two-cent postage stamp.
with photos of the Columbian Exposition and the
city of Chicago were a big hit with the visitors
traveling to the exposition in 1893. After the
cost of the postage was dropped to one cent for
both the prepaid postal cards and postcards in
1898, the decorative postcard became even more
popular. Soon there were postcards with
appropriate greetings for each holiday as well
as birthdays and special events. Many were
beautiful while others were cartoon style with
Until 1907 the
back of the postcard was reserved for the
address. Any message had to be written on the
front side. The divided back postcard was
introduced in 1907.
Most of the
greeting postcards including those for Christmas
were printed in Germany for export to the United
States. German printers excelled at using
intricate embossing techniques, high caliber art
work, superior inks, expensive lithographic
processes and even novelty additions such as
glitter, ribbons, metal, silk and feathers.
Unfortunately World War I in 1915 brought an end
to these lovely cards.
Albert M. Davis received a New Year’s greeting
card with a verse by Charles Dickens in 1906. He
felt that this was the kind of sentiment that
the American public needed. He found similar
verses and then wrote six verses himself. He
published them in postcard format and sold them
for five cents each. The following year he
published 40 cards, 16 of which were Christmas
cards, and founded the A.M. Davis Co., which is
often considered the forerunner of the greeting
card business in the United States.
saved the postcards they received on holidays
and special occasions. These were placed in
beautiful albums and became showpieces with a
place of honor on the parlor table.
Genevieve Whitney, an early and longtime Tustin
resident, left several albums filled with
postcards to the Tustin Area Museum which is
displaying a number of those created for