Did you know the tradition of the Christmas card dates back to Victorian-era England? Sir Henry Cole commissioned John Calcott Horsley to design a card for the holiday in 1843, and the festive greeting cards were imported to America from England until 1874, when German-born printer Louis Prang produced the first American-made cards. Nineteenth century designs ranged from depictions of Christmas trees and Nativity scenes to cards shaped like bells and candles, or decorated with silk and satin.
By the early twentieth century, sending Christmas cards had become a popular custom in Britain and the United States, and many movie stars joined in on the tradition. As seen here, cards sent from Hollywood often incorporated images of the stars and their families for a more personalized greeting. Here are a few of our favorites: at the top, Princess Grace of Monaco (the former Grace Kelly) and family; above, “It” Girl Clara Bow; and below, Jayne Mansfield and her children (including Mariska Hargitay, in blue floral dress), and Elvis Presley and Colonel Tom Parker.
The Margaret Herrick Library’s collection of Christmas cards is housed in Special Collections.