What would Christmas be without the much loved symbols of the season – the decorated Christmas tree, gift giving, Christmas crackers (bon bons) and Christmas cards? These symbols all became immensely popular during the Victorian era. By 1900 Christmas was the biggest celebration in the British, and therefore Australian, calendar,
The first Christmas card was made in 1843. Sir Henry Cole, founding director of the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) asked John Callcott Horsley, an artist to create a Christmas card of which he printed 1000 for sale in his art shop in London. This initial idea seemed to work as the wealthy families began sending out their own cards every Christmas.
Horsley’s design for Henry Cole’s card (above) depicts three generations of the Cole family raising a toast in a central, hand-coloured panel surrounded by a decorative trellis and black and white scenes depicting acts of giving
It is said that Queen Victoria was a huge fan of the Christmas card and began to have her own children creating and sending their own Christmas cards throughout the period. The popularity of sending cards was helped along when in 1870 a halfpenny postage rate was introduced. This led to over 11 million cards printed by 1880. This was now tradition; one which we still have today.
The beautiful Christmas cards below are from a set of Christmas cards received by the Anderson family of ‘Lakeview’ Bergalia in the early 1900s. The images in many of the cards reflect the family’s Scottish heritage – the snow-covered villages of the place they still called “Home”, a highland stag, and thistles.
You have to wonder who Will, Glad, Russ and June – all mentioned on the first card – were.
Click on the first card to see a slider of the collection.
Wishing everyone a joyous Christmas and relaxing end of year break, from all of us at Moruya and District Historical Society.