Nov. 27, 2006
What is believed to be one of the first mass-produced Christmas cards – dating back more than 160 years – can be found among the extensive special collections at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Approximately 1,000 copies of the card were printed, but only 10 have survived to modern times. SMU’s Bridwell Library acquired its copy in 1982. The card was designed for businessman Henry Cole who wanted a ready-to-mail greeting card because he was too busy to engage in the traditional English custom of writing notes with Christmas and New Year’s greetings to friends and family.
The card predated color printing so it was hand-colored. It is divided into three panels, with the center panel depicting a family drinking wine at a celebration and the flanking panels illustrating charitable acts of feeding and clothing the poor. Bridwell Library’s card was signed by Cole and addressed to the engraver of the card, John Thompson (1785-1866).
For more information, call the SMU Office of News & Communications at 214-768-7650. An electronic version of the card is available for download at smu.edu/newsinfo/stories/oldest-christmas-card.asp .
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