Printed Ephemera of Visual Culture, 1820-1920
A Unique Resource of Over 250,000 Classic Images
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THE JOHN and CAROLYN GROSSMAN COLLECTION
The Winterthur Library at the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate 
Route 52, Kennett Pike, Winterthur, Delaware 19735. www.winterthur.org. 

Choice And Rare 2

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FIRST PRINTED CHRISTMAS CARD (English, 1843)
Sir Henry Cole of London conceived the first Christmas card in 1843. Cole commissioned his friend, artist John Calcott Horsley, to design a holiday card that would replace his seasonal task of writing many letters. Horsley, a future member of the Royal Academy, illustrated a festive Victorian family flanked by charitable images of feeding and clothing the poor. He framed his design with twisted branches of wood and ivy, added "A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year To You," and included name spaces for the sender and recipient. An estimated one thousand copies of this 3" x 5" card were printed. After Cole fulfilled his list, the remaining cards were sold for one shilling each. Sir Henry Cole did not realize he had created the first commercially printed Christmas card and certainly never dreamed of inspiring an international, multi-billion dollar industry that thrives in the 21st century! Only about twenty Cole-Horsley cards are known to exist today. They reside in museums and archives including Pierpont-Morgan Library (NYC), The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), and Hallmark Historical Collection (Kansas City). The John Grossman Collection of Antique Images is part of that distinguished list. Our Cole-Horsley card is the crowning jewel to a significant holding of Victorian Christmas images.



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PRINTER'S PROOF OF THE FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD (English, 1843)
Rarer than the Cole-Horsley Christmas Card is this printer's proof in red ink. Intended to show how the design looked prior to its final print run and correct any imperfections on the printing stone, this one-color proof was actually used by Henry Cole. It is inscribed to "W. Matchwick" at lower left and signed "from Henry Cole" at lower right. William Matchwick was a close friend and collaborator of Henry Cole. The only design details from the finished card that did not appear on this proof were the "To" and "From" designated areas and the publisher's credit line. Everything else remains true to the final design. This card measures 4-5/8" h x 6-1/2" w and is one of only four proofs known to exist.



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ONE OF THE EARLIEST AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CARDS (Philadelphia, c.1849-1853)
Soon to follow Sir Henry Cole's printed Christmas card was this early American version. It measures 5-1/4" h x 7" w and has a similar triptych design style as the Cole-Horsley card. A family appears in the center panel flanked by side panels of food and drink. Nicholson Devereaux, a wood engraver from Boston and later Philadelphia, is credited under the left side panel. Keffer & Brett, lithographers based in Philadelphia at the end of the 1840s, are credited under the right side panel. The card is addressed to "Miss M. E. V. Stratton" and is an exceptionally rare example. It looks very much like another American Christmas card from the same period, c.1850. That greeting card was lithographed by R.H. Pease of Albany, New York and advertised "Pease's Great Variety Store In The Temple Of Fancy." Its last reported location was in the Manchester Polytechnic Library (Manchester, UK)




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