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This holiday, send a work of art

In an era of digital communication, there is something thrilling about receiving holiday cards in the mail. We so infrequently get mail that isn’t trying to sell us something or remind us a bill is due. So opening bright-colored envelopes with messages of joy brightens the season. I always enjoy seeing how much children have grown in cards featuring family photos, but I also love seeing the variety of traditional cards, ranging from painterly Impressionist to modern graphic.

A recent New York Times London article featured on chronicles the history of the holiday card, as the earliest known printed card is displayed in a London museum. The tradition started in 1843, when British civil servant Henry Cole commissioned 1,000 cards by artist John Callcott Horsley.

Only twenty-one of the original cards are known to still exist. This one is addressed, in handwritten script, to “My very dear father and mother,” and signed “from their loving son, Joe.”

According to the article, the exchange of holiday cards is bouncing back after a decline in the mid-1990s. For a great selection of holiday cards, visit The Hyde’s Museum Shop. (Throughout the month of December, we will offer an expanded Museum Shop in Hoopes Gallery.)