On the Porch

The Christmas card is often sent as part of the traditional celebration of the holiday season in order to convey between people a range of sentiments related to the holiday season. Over a billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States. A leader in the greeting card business, Hallmark, got its start in the 1910s, but it was in 1928 that the company began marketing its brand by using the Hallmark name on the back of every card. Company founder, J.C. Hall, was intrigued by the word “hallmark” used by goldsmiths as a mark of quality. Mr. Hall liked that the word not only said quality, but also included his family name.

According to Hallmark, the world’s first known Christmas card appeared in London in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole hired painter and illustrator, John Calcott Horsley, to design a holiday card to send to his friends and acquaintances. Lithographer Louis Prang, a Prussian immigrant who started a small printing business near Boston in the late 1850’s, is generally considered the father of the American Christmas card. Prang published his first Christmas card for his customers in 1875, a simple flower design with the words, “Merry Christmas.”

Prang continued to publish his popular cards until the 1890s, when inexpensive imported postcards from Germany swamped the market and forced him to turn to other publishing ventures. The imported penny Christmas postcard remained popular in the United States until the outbreak of World War I, which closed off the market from German imports, and spurred the birth of the American greeting card industry.

The photograph featured this week shows a Christmas postcard from the museum’s collection. This 2 cent postcard was postmarked in Marshall on Dec. 23, 1925. The postcard was mailed to Ward Weidauer of Marshall. The postcard was from Edwin and Bertha Drury. Ward and Bertha were brother and sister.

The Lyon County Historical Society is a non-profit, member-supported organization. For more information on membership, research, volunteering, or the museum’s collection, please contact us at 537-6580 or director@lyoncomuseum.org. Like our page and follow us on Facebook.

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