Lick and Stick

No matter how you receive your mail, it’s always nice to receive a card to hold in your hand. Read on to see how this wonderful tradition got started. 

In this digital, video screens, “always on” world we live in, there’s still something special about going to the mailbox and receiving a stack of holiday greetings.  Whatever your religion, holiday blessings or new year’s wishes, I just like getting and sending folks cards.  Now of course, I’ll admit, it’s Jackie’s organizational skills that gets the cards out – with over 100 brothers, sisters, in-laws, babies, grand babies, cousins, aunts and uncles, AND an extensive friendship circle, it’s quite the chore to keep everybody straight. Some families like to tuck an “update” recap in with their cards (not really for me) – you know the ones – “after completing our 2nd climb to the peak of Kilimanjaro last month, we sauntered through the French wine region and ended up meeting the kids, vacationing in the Alps, for an eco-ski-dinner.  Jimmy, receiving his third PHD in nuclear medicine, and his lovely wife and astronaut Becky, just had their third child, Einstein, and are struggling to decide which e-Land Rover buggy to get him – couple that with Billy surfing in Hawaii, Sandra walking the Appalachian Trial and Fluffy the Cat competing in online meoworamma competitions ….”  You get the picture.  I’m pretty traditional in my cards (kids and grandkids are great!), I’m more about the “reason for the season”– birth of Christ, love of Jesus, all things family and doing my best to pass along my heartfelt blessings and prayers for a fun filled holiday and a safe, prosperous New Year.  I found some fun tips about Christmas cards and just had to share.  Enjoy, and thanks to smithsonianmag.com and usps.com for the info and history.

  • Christmas cards were originally penned in England by boys who were practicing their writing skills and would present these handmade cards to their parents.
  • Postmen in Victorian England were called robins because their uniforms were red. Many Christmas cards from that time depicted a robin delivering Christmas mail.
  • Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first Christmas card in London, featuring artwork by John Callcott Horsley. The hand-colored card was lithographed on stiff, dark cardboard with the message: “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”  It provoked controversy in England because it pictured a company of people holding glasses of wine. Putting alcohol and holy Christmas in one picture was deemed offensive. (In 2001 it became world’s most expensive Christmas card when it was sold for $35,800 at auction).
  • A prominent educator and patron of the arts, Henry Cole travelled in the elite social circles of early Victorian England and had the misfortune of having too many friends. During the holiday season of 1843, those friends were causing Cole much anxiety.  With the introduction of the “Penny Post,” it allowed Henry to send a letter or card anywhere in the country by affixing a penny stamp to the correspondence.  He took Horsley’s illustration—a triptych showing a family at table celebrating the holiday flanked by images of people helping the poor—and had a thousand copies made by a London printer with the word “TO:_____” at the top – allowing Cole to personalize his responses, which included the generic greeting “A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You.”
  • While Cole and Horsley get the credit for the first, it took several decades for the Christmas card to really catch on, both in Great Britain and the US. Once it did, it became an integral part of our holiday celebrations—even as the definition of “the holidays” became more expansive, and now includes not just Christmas and New Year’s, but Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice.
  • In 1875, Louis Prang, American printer, lithographer and publisher, brought Christmas card production to the US at his workshop in Boston, Massachusetts. By 1881 he was printing more than 5 million Christmas cards per year.
  • The modern Christmas card industry arguably began in 1915, when a Kansas City-based fledgling postcard printing company started by Joyce Hall, later to be joined by his brothers Rollie and William, published its first holiday card. The “Hall Brothers” company (which, went on to become …. come on …. you know …. think, think, think – Hallmark!) soon adapted a new format for the cards—4 inches wide, 6 inches high, folded once, and inserted in an envelope.
  • Between 1948 and 1957, Norman Rockwell (one of our favorites here at KHT) created 32 Christmas card designs, including Santa Looking at Two Sleeping Children (1952) for Hallmark.
  • The introduction, 59 years ago, of the first Christmas stamp by the U.S. Post Office perhaps speaks even more powerfully to the popularity of the Christmas card. It depicted a wreath, two candles and had the words “Christmas, 1962.” According to the Post Office, the department ordered the printing of 350 million of these 4-cent, green and white stamps. However they underestimated the demand and ended up having to do a special printing.
  • There are more than 3,000 greeting card publishers in America, with an unknow number of amateur writers and designers.
  • 15% of Christmas cards are purchased by men (ok, do the math, that means ____ % are purchased by ______. Nice)
  • Over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year, with around 500 million e-cards sent as well.
  • Werner Erhard of San Francisco set a world record for sending 62,824 Christmas cards  in December of 1975 (that’s a lot of licking!) At $.58 per stamp this would amount to $36,437.92 worth of stamps in today’s dollars!
  • The most popular Christmas card of all time, however, is a simple one. It’s an image of three cherubic angels, two of whom are bowed in prayer. The third peers out from the card with big, baby blue eyes, her halo slightly askew.
  • Today, much of the innovation in Christmas cards is found in smaller, niche publishers whose work is found in gift shops and paper stores. “These smaller publishers are bringing in a lot of new ideas,” says Peter Doherty, executive director of the Greeting Card Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group representing the card publishers. “You have elaborate pop-up cards, video cards, audio cards, cards segmented to various audiences.
  • For me, I’ll stick with the classic.

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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