In 1822, Davies Gilbert published “Some Ancient Christmas Carols”, in which he described a typical English West Country Christmas. The collection sang of food, drink, and good things celebrated at Christmas.
The British Museum said: “Mr. Gilbert has taken advantage of old Time, and made safe, for some centuries at least, a record of our ancient Christmas Carols; and for this good deed has secured the gratitude of Antiquaries yet unborn. These Carols are genuine national curiosities.”
|Cherubs Christmas Card|
In 1843, Sir Henry Cole commissioned an artist from the Royal Academy to design a card he could send to his large circle of family and friends instead of writing them letters. Postage had been standardized three years earlier and Cole had played a key role in initiating Uniform Penny Post.
Wanting to popularize the use of post, Cole hit upon a brilliant idea of spreading holiday cheer by sending cards. The card was issued from a periodical, Felix Summerly’s Home Treasury, and sold for a shilling a piece.
Lithographed and hand-colored, it showed a family of three generations quaffing wine and caused a furor among the temperate classes. On either side were allegorical vignettes depicting the feeding of the hungry and the clothing of the naked and the whole thing was enclosed in a rustic frame of carved wood and ivy.
|First Christmas Card|
|Christmas Card Greeting
Sales grew and designs and sizes changed. The first cards were meant to appeal to the masses and encourage them to send large numbers by post. So rather than focus on religious images, they showed sentimental or humorous images of family and children, fanciful designs of flowers, fairies, or reminders of the approach of spring.
Cards were shaped as a bell, a fan, a crescent, a circle, or a diamond and were folding, decorated with jewels, iridescent, embossed, and carried either simple Christmas and New Year greetings or had verses and carols written in them. The next year, Mr W.C.T. Dobson produced a sketch symbolizing the ‘Spirit of Christmas’ which sold many more than the previous thousand and the novelty caught on. More Victorian Christmas Cards More on Victorian publishers of Christmas cards
|The royal family with their tree
1848 Illustrated London News.
|1845 The Queen’s Christmas Tree
by Joseph Nash
|Windsor Castle Christmas Tree|
|1871 German Soldiers with Tree
at temporary hospital
|2011 Windsor Castle Hanging Tree|
|A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Original Front Cover
Though carols, cards, and trees were either revived or started, a new trend began in the early Victorian era where Christmas stories were no longer simply told in families but were written down and published.
In 1843, Charles Dickens turned the Christmas season back to one of festivity and merriment when his novel, A Christmas Carol, was published.Under financial stress, he wrote it during a period of intense creativity and completed the work in a mere six weeks, having made no working notes, outline, plans, or preliminary drafts.
The sixty-eight-page manuscript is viewable at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. The Morgan’s collection of Dickens’ manuscripts and letters is one of the two greatest collections in the world, the other being Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum.